Compared to other team sports, volleyball may involve less physical contact but it is still a challenging sport for the reason that the game entails constant motion. Being purely a rebound sport, no player can hold the ball but can only pass, set, hit, spike or block the ball.
Volleyball is played by two teams on a court which is divided crosswise by a net. The offensive goal of each team is to send the ball – without holding the ball — in such a way that it lands on the ground of the opposing team.
Each team consists of 6 players who must rotate in a clockwise position every time the team wins back service time. Three players are at the net positions and the other three are at the back. Only the players at the net can block or spike near the net. Those at the back court can also block or spike provided that they jump from behind the three-meter-line, also known as the attack line.
The starting line-up usually includes such specialists as the setter, two center-line backers, two receiver-hitters and what is known as a universal spiker. In 1998, the International Federation of Volleyball introduced a new specialist player position called the libero who is the only one that does not take part in rotation.
The libero serves a critical role in receiving service and playing defense in the backcourt. Although he cannot serve, spike or rotate into the frontline, he holds the key to making his team run a successful offense by a combination of excellent passing and ball-handling.
Volleyball has adopted since 1998 a standard scoring system known as the Rally Point System which allows a team to score a point regardless of whichever of the two teams is serving. This is unlike the traditional scoring system in which only the team at service can score.
The ball is hurled into play by a service. Each team is allowed only 3 hits in the service reception. The ball is volleyed back and forth in what is known as a rally. The rally goes on until the ball gets grounded on the playing court, goes out of the court or is not returned properly. Whoever wins a rally scores a point.
A receiving team which wins a rally not only gains a point but also wins the right to serve and the opportunity to rotate clockwise.
Matches are staged via best-of-five sets. The first four sets are all played to 25 points while the last or fifth set is played to only 15 points. A team wins a set if he out scores the opponent by at least 2 points. As there is no ceiling point, a set continues until a team wins by 2 points.
During the early years of volleyball, the usual attire consists of baggy shirts and shorts. Today, volleyball uniforms are less baggy and more formal-looking. Shirts could either be sleeveless, short-sleeved or long-sleeved and paired with either trousers or shorts. Players also wear volleyball shoes.