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NCAA volleyball rules chair Lyndsey Oates on recent changes

Emma Grome sets for Kentucky during the 2023 NCAA volleyball tournament Matt Smith photo

Just imagine: No fans screaming “Double! Double!”

Well, in all likelihood, the double in NCAA women’s volleyball will be a thing of the past.

That’s because the NCAA women’s volleyball rules committee last week, recommended “allowing players to contact the ball more than once with any part of the body in a single attempt on a team’s second contact when the ball is played to a teammate.

“However, if the ball is played over the net in this type of scenario, it would be ruled a fault, and the team would lose the point.”

That was one of a handful of changes for next season, including the use of two liberos, allowing snug-fitting nose rings (seriously) and ear cuffs, and adding contact between opponents above the net to be challengeable with video review.

All of the changes must be approved on February 20 when the NCAA playing pules oversight panel meets. Normally these things are rubber stamped.

The third-year chair of the committee that met last week in Indianapolis is Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Oates. The only other Division I coach on the committee is Nebraska’s John Cook. The entire list follows.

Losing the double is no small thing.

“We talked for hours, knowing that this is a pretty significant change,” said Oates, who has been on the committee for four years and comes off August 31. “But we just didn’t see a lot of downside. The argument to keep calling it is that there might not be good enough skill in our sport, and that was what we kept coming back to, would it really change that. Coaches who are training the sport still don’t want a setter to not deliver a ball with rhythm and consistency and clean. There’s still an advantage to training it at a very high skill level. I don’t think we will lose that. I really don’t. It’ll just add a little more athleticism, a little less judgement for the officials, we won’t lose the skill in setting. It’s still important to set a clean ball.”

Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Oates is the chair of the NCAA volleyball rules committtee
Northern Colorado’s Lyndsey Oates is the chair of the NCAA volleyball rules committtee/UNC photo

As with most rules changes at the higher levels, it will trickle down. Inevitably the double will then go away for club. As it is now it’s rarely called in men’s volleyball.

“That was part of the discussion, that maybe we can be a little bit more well rounded and not specialized so early,” Oates said. 

“Kids who don’t have good hands early when they are learning the sport are pushed away…

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