Volleyball League Rules

Recreational Sports provides a fun, fair, and safe environment for everyone who plays. Our rules are based upon the national governing bodies for each sport (such as NCAA, USVA, etc.) There are some university-specific rules, so please read closely.

For additional Recreational Sports league policies, click here.


A. A team will consist of six (6) players.

B. A team can start and compete a match with as few as five (5) players.

  • The official will start the game when five players are present.
  • Additional players may be added to the score sheet and enter the game as they arrive. Non-roster players must first pay the appropriate fee, and be added to the roster before playing.
  • A player may only play for one team in each sport. No Exceptions.

  • C. Players/participants must present their league card and a valid University of California, San Francisco Student ID, UCSF Employee ID, Fitness and Recreation Membership ID or a Drivers License with picture ID will be accepted before each contest in order to participate. Picture identification checks occur before every Intramural sport contest. Failure to provide an acceptable form of identification will result in not being able to participate in Intramural sports. Absolutely no exceptions will be made.

    D. All Non-Members and General Public participants must have a valid league card to participate in UCSF Recreational Sports Leagues. League Cards are obtained from the Recreational Program Supervisor during the Captains Meeting. If a league card is lost or misplaced, there is a $5.00 fee to replace the card.


    A. After ten (10) minutes, if a team is not present and ready to play, that team will forfeit the first game of the match. The team then has five more minutes to get their team together, or the team will forfeit the second game and the match.

    B. In order to claim a forfeit, a team must have the correct number of players present and ready to play.

    C. If neither team is able to field a team, a double forfeit will be declared.

    D. Teams that forfeit a contest without giving at least 48 hours notice to the Recreational Sports office will be charged a forfeit fee. This is to ensure that all teams have an opponent each week.

    E. The team which forfeited will receive a 3 as their SOG rating. The SOG rating will be changed to a 4 once the forfeit fee is paid. If the team has notified the office, then they will receive a 4.5 SOG rating for the match.

    F. The forfeit fee is $30 per forfeit. Forfeit fees must be paid at the Fitness and Recreation Desk before the team’s next match (usually 7 days) or else they will not be allowed to play their next scheduled match.

    G. A second forfeit within the same sport may result in that team being dropped from league play and an additional forfeit fee charged.

    H. Forfeits may affect playoff seeding.


    A. All games shall be governed by the current USAV Rules, except where special Recreation Sports Rules apply. All players and team captains are responsible for knowing the rules.

    B. The team on the left side of the schedule is home team and will have choice of serve or side in the first game.

    C. Length of the game

  • The official will meet with the captains as soon as the previous game is over. At that moment, a 60-minute clock will start. Captains will agree on the warm-up time (which is part of the 40 minutes) and after the warm up, the game will start.
  • A match consists of the best two out of three games. The first two games play to 25 points - rally scoring - and a third to 15.
  • A team must win by at least two points (e.g. 25-23; 19-25; 15-13) max points 27 (e.g. 27-26).
  • If the 60-minute period expires and the third game is still in progress:
    - If neither team has reached seven points, the game will go to seven (7) points.
    - If a team has already reached at least seven points (e.g. 10-8 score), the game is over. The point being played as the clock alarm sounds must count. A team must also win the third game by two points (eg. 7-5; 11-9; 15-13; 16-14) or when it reaches 17 first (e.g. 17-16).

  • Third game cannot end in a tie. If the time expires and the score is tied, an additional one point will be played to determine a winner.

  • D. Playoffs

  • The first and second games will go to 25 points, or to a maximum 27-26 score.
  • The third game will go to 15 points, or to a maximum 17-16 score.
  • The 60-minute time limit will not be in effect.

  • E. Time-Outs

  • Each team is allowed one (1) time-out in the first game and one (1) in the second. Timeouts are not accumulative.
  • No time-out is allowed in the third game.
  • Time-outs can be requested only when the ball is dead. The official must grant the time-out.

  • F. Substitutions

  • Substitutions may be made only when the ball is dead. All substitutions must be made within a 15-second time limit.
  • A substitute can only go in and out of one position. Exception: upon mutual agreement of both teams, one position may be designated as the position for substituting players at each game rotation.

  • G. The Serve

  • The first server is the right back player.
  • There is a penalty if the server skips over the blue line, a foot fault will be called and the opposite team will get a point and serve.
  • The ball must be released and hit while in the air during the serve. The server may strike the ball with his hand in any manner: underhand, sidearm, or overhand. There is no jumping serving.
  • Side-out is declared when a served ball hits any objects hanging from the ceiling or wall. If the ball hits the ceiling it is live.
  • Each player must remain in position within the boundary lines of the court until the server has contacted the ball.
  • Rotation shall be in a clockwise direction.
  • If the ball served hits the net, yet falls onto the receiving side, the ball is live.
  • The server must wait for a whistle from the referee before serving. Failure to do so will result in a warning the first time: a side-out the second. (One warning will be given per team, per match).

  • H. Legal Play

    The ball must pass between or over the side boundary lines (net antennae) as it crosses the net, after being played (touched) three or less times. The antenna is out on bounds.

  • It is permissible to run out of bounds to play a ball, but not permissible to run into the other court to do so.
  • If two players contact the ball simultaneously, it counts as one hit, and either may play the ball again.
  • A player may play the ball twice during a volley, but not twice in succession, unless played directly off a legal block.
  • It is legal to contact the ball with any part of the body as long as the ball rebounds immediately and does not come to rest against the body.
  • When a ball touches a boundary line, it is considered good.
  • Balls Which Hit the Ceiling or Attached Items: When a ball touches the ceiling, or items attached to it, the ball will remain on play as long as it does not cross the net to the opponent’s side. Balls which strike outside the court boundaries, or side or back walls, the top of the basketball backboard, will be called out.

  • I. Ball Control faults

  • Double hit: Ball contacts the same person two consecutive times.
  • Carry/Lift/Scoop: Ball comes to a rest on the player as he/she continues to play the ball
  • Throw: Person directs the motion of the ball. In these cases the ball usually comes to a rest in the hands or on a power dink, the wrist is broken as the player shoots the ball over the net.
  • Stuck ball: ball comes to a rest in player’s arms, hands.

  • J. Double hit exceptions:

  • Contact with open hands and the ball rolls off the hand backward without being held.
  • On every first ball over the net there may be more than two contacts by the same person while making one play on the ball.
  • Ball stuck between two players on opposing teams is a replay.
  • On a block, the ball can be hit more than once by the same person while making one play on the ball.
  • Net Play

    A. A ball hit into the net by a team may still be kept in play (up to three hits) provided the net is not touched by any player.

    B. No player may contact the net, except for incidental contacts made by players not making a play on the ball, as prescribed by USAV rules. If two opposing players touch the net simultaneously, the ball is declared dead and the point will be replayed. A net contact caused by a driven ball is not a fault.

    C. Blockers may reach over net, however the blocker(s) shall not contact the ball on the opponents’ side until after completion of the opponents action which sends the ball toward the blocker’s side.

    D. The team that has effected the block shall have 3 more contacts. The blocker has the right to make the first of three allowable hits.

    E. A player may step on, but not over, the centerline under the net. (Some part of the player’s foot or hand must touch or be above the line in order for it not to be a foul. )

    F. A spiker must contact the ball on their own side of the net, but may follow through over the net.

    G. Back line players may spike the ball provided they leave the ground with both feet behind a line 10 feet from the net.

    H. If the ball is served and hits the net, yet falls onto the receiving side, the ball is live.

    Co-ed Modifications
  • A team consists of six (6) players. A game may be played with as few as five (5) players.
  • Two (2) players who identify as male and two (2) players who identify as female must be on the court at all times; the remaining player(s) on the court can be of any gender.
  • The ball may only be contacted by each individual once per sequence, unless the first contact is made by a player in the back row.
  • The ball is cleared when an individual from the opposing team makes contact with the ball.
  • Substitutions must retain the allowable M:F ratio of players on the court.
  • The volleyball official can make any exceptions to the rules and policies in accordance to the USA volleyball rules as they see the fit
  • Additional Policies

    A. Players listed on the game score-sheet will be assumed to have played.

    B. All protests must be lodged prior to the next serve following the situation in question.

    C. The gender rule is enforced only in thee advanced volleyball league. The beginner’s have no gender rule.

    D. Players may begin to warm up after the preceding game is finished, or on an empty court, if one is available.

    E. No food or beverages are allowed on the gym floor.

    F. Jump serves are allowed in the advanced volleyball league and not the beginners or intermediate league.

    G. NO alcohol will be allowed in the gym.