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Protective Face Masks Permissible in High School Volleyball in 2020-21

Rules • January 30, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (January 30, 2020) — A protective face mask similar to those worn in other sports is now permissible under Rule 4-1-4 for the 2020-21 high school volleyball season. The face masks must be made of hard material and must be molded to the face with no protrusions.

This was one of six rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Volleyball Rules Committee at its annual meeting January 5-7 in Indianapolis. The changes were approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Revised rules for roster submissions and penalties assessed to the team bench are among the most prominent rules changes for the  2020-21 season.

“High school volleyball is in a great place, which is reflected in the small number of both rules proposals and rules changes this year,” said Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Volleyball Rules Committee. “The NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee continues to be dedicated to finding ways to improve the administration of the game as is evident in the changes made for the 2020-21 volleyball season.”

One change pertains to the consequences for late roster submissions and changes made to the roster after 10 minutes remain on the pregame clock (Rules 7-1-1, 9-9-1).

Previously, a team’s failure to submit an accurate roster to the second referee at the prematch conference warranted a loss of rally/point under Rule 7-1-1 and 7-1-1 PENALTIES. However, since the prematch conference happens well before the 10-minute mark during warmups, the requirement for total accuracy of the roster at that time has been removed, and the corresponding charge has been reduced to an unnecessary delay (administrative yellow card). The penalty for a roster correction(s) made after the 10-minute mark remains a loss of rally/point.

This modification was also noted under Rule 9-9-1, which specifies unnecessary delay scenarios, and is now listed as Rule 9-9-1a.

Administrative leniency for an unsporting conduct situation was addressed with the second major rule change.

Under Rule 12-2-6, a yellow or red unsporting conduct card assessed to the coaching staff or team bench rescinded the head coach’s right to stand inside the libero replacement zone and forced him or her to remain seated for the remainder of the match.

The amendment to the rule lessens the severity of a yellow card in this instance and allows it to function as a warning rather than an automatic retraction of privileges. Head coaches are still required to sit immediately if a red card or second yellow card is imposed for unsporting conduct. 

One further alteration was made regarding roster submissions. As part of the addendum to Rule 7-1-4, teams that list an incorrect libero number on a lineup provided during the timed interval or intermission between sets may now correct the clerical error before play begins with no penalty assessed.

The final adjustment is a change to Official Signal No. 15, which now mandates that a substitution be represented with two short whistles by the official, followed by two shoulder-height rotations of the forearms around each other with closed hands.  

A complete listing of the volleyball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Volleyball.”

According to the 2018-19 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, volleyball is the second-most popular sport for girls (trailing track and field) with 452,808 participants in 16,572 schools nationwide. In addition, there are 63,563 boys participating in the sport at 2,692 schools, and 25 states conduct state championships in boys volleyball.


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