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NCAA volleyball approves double contact, 2 liberos per set rule changes

Senior+Emery+Herman+%284%29+talks+to+her+teammates+before+the+start+of+the+game.
Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
Senior Emery Herman (4) talks to her teammates before the start of the game Oct. 28, 2023. CSU won 3-0 against Boise State University.

Two rule changes made by the NCAA are giving Colorado State volleyball some things to consider.

The first rule change was the elimination of the double contact call. This means that a player is allowed to hit the ball twice unless the second hit goes over the net.

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That makes at least one person excited: coach Emily Kohan

While Kohan shared her excitement for the change on social media, the rule is causing controversy. A search for “double contact volleyball” will show people arguing back and forth about the change. 

The elimination of the rule does not greatly affect the game according to Kohan. She said that what it lacks in providing an advantage, it makes up for in eliminating the subjectivity of officiating.

“To take it out of decision making, I think it is kind of a fairness of it. It speeds up the game,” Kohan said. “It lets the game just continue on; they did a whole set of metrics, where they tracked a double contact on the second ball, usually means you’re going to lose the point anyways. It’s a filthy set, and so very rarely is it an advantage to your team to have a setter do double contact.”

The argument against the change primarily comes from setters. Those against the change believe their practice to avoid the call was done in vain. Emery Herman, CSU’s setter, is OK with the change.

“A lot of setters are like, ‘I trained for so long and now you can just double anybody,’” Herman said. “But I don’t know. I personally don’t get the negative feedback because it’s not going to change how you train setters, the mindset behind the strategy or anything. So, I think some people are just like, ‘setters can now do whatever, and there’s no integrity,’ but I don’t think that’s true.”

Herman said part of her reasoning was because the call was made 10-15 times throughout the season for the Rams. However, those calls were often the deciding factor of the match.

“Some refs are really lenient with it and some refs are really strict with it, so that’s also hard going into a matchup being like, ‘well what kind of (referee) we got tonight?'” Kohan said.

The second rule change made by the NCAA was permitting a second libero to rotate in during a set.

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“The panel approved each team being allowed to designate two liberos for each set of the match. Only one libero would be allowed on the court at a time, and the libero would be allowed to serve in one position,” the NCAA said.

Previously, only one libero was allowed to play in a set. Now, two liberos can rotate point-for-point as long as both are not in at the same time.

Kate Yoshimoto, entering the 2024 season as a redshirt junior for the Rams, is new to the idea of having two liberos. Before, she typically played as the sole libero rotating in during a set. However, she does see the potential for it becoming a strategy move.

“I think definitely in a strategy way, people have talked about using one libero for (the) serve receive and one libero for defense,” Yoshimoto said. “So, they would kind of switch out every single play which I thought was kind of crazy, because I’ve never played like that before.”

A potential option for the Rams in utilizing this rule includes the addition of a serving specialist, which means the best serving libero on the team can come in to serve without burning a substitution. The rest of the time, the best defensive libero would play the set.

“What the purists are afraid of is I call it a ‘dig bro’ and a ‘pass bro,’” Kohan said. “That one libero is in there who is a really good passer and then when you’re digging on defense, they put a different ‘bro’ in there.”

Adam Gross can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @agrose_22.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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