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Sand Volleyball Rules

Stonewall Sand Volleyball

Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh will operate under the competition rules and regulations as outlined in the Domestic Competition Rules and Regulations as adopted by USA Volleyball and available at  The rules below are specific to Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh and supersede the rules in the USA Volleyball handbook.

Last Updated 12 May 2022.

  1. Match Time and Number of Sets
    1. Each match will be played as the best of 3 sets. The first two sets of a match will be played to 25, utilizing rally scoring. A third set will be played, regardless of the result of the first two sets. The third set will be to 15 points (time permitting).
    2. The first team in a set to score 25 (or 15 for the 3rd set) will be the winner of that set.
    3. If the set score reaches 24-24, the first team to reach a two-point advantage (e.g. 26-24 or 29-27) will be the winner of that set.
    4. Matches are limited to 50 minutes of playing time.
    5. Each team will be permitted one timeout per set (excluding the 3rd set), lasting no longer than 60 seconds. Timeouts are not permitted in the 3rd set.
    6. If a match reaches the time limit before the completion of the deciding set, the teams will finish the current set. If the conclusion of that set does not determine the winner of the match (a 1-1 match score), then the third set will be played, but the score needed to win the set will be reduced to 10 and no game interruptions will be permitted.
  2. Playing area
    1. Due to venue availability and limitations, the designated free area around the competition area may be smaller than outlined in the USAVB rule book.
  3. Net Height
    1. For the purpose of a co-ed, recreational league, Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh will utilize a net height of 7’9 5/8”.
  4. Team Composition
    1. A team may consist of up to 12 members including the Captain. For the purposes of league formation and placement of Free Agents, some teams may exceed this limit with the approval of League Leadership.
    2. Only team members that are registered and paid members of Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh are eligible to play on a team. If a non-registered player is used during a match, the opposing team may notify the referee and the match will for forfeited.
    3. A team must have at least 4 players present at their scheduled match time. If a team does not present at least four players at match time, a forfeit will be recorded (a five-minute buffer will be permitted, but this will reduce the match to 45 minutes). After the forfeit has been recorded, the teams may choose to play a friendly scrimmage match if both captains agree to play. Any scrimmage match resulting from a forfeit must end at least 5 minutes before the beginning of the next match.
    4. If a team is unable to produce 4 players prior to the start of their game, they may ask for up to 2 registered Stonewall Sand Volleyball players from other teams to be substitutes to meet the minimum number of 4 players on the court. For example, if 3 players from your team are present, you may ask only 1 additional Stonewall Sand Volleyball player to sub in your game (taking your team to 4 players).
    5. Substitutes are not permitted for playoffs.
    6. A team is allowed 4-6 players on the court at a time. The number of players on the court cannot change during any given set however may differ at the start of a new set.
    7. In accordance with the recreational nature of Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh, all present eligible players from a team must play through one full serve/receive rotation before the conclusion of the second set.
    8. The play of all team members must occur within the first two sets of a match.
  5. Challenges
    1. Challenges may be made to the referee by the team captain only. If the captain is not present, a player may be designated captain for that day’s gameplay.
    2. No other player may challenge a call or argue with the referee (or line judges).
      1. Excessive arguing can be deemed as misconduct and follow appropriate disciplinary action (see section titled, Misconduct).
    3. If a challenge is found to be appropriate, no point will be awarded to either team, and the serve will be replayed.
    4. If a challenge is overruled and the original call by the referee stands, the appropriate team will be awarded the point as originally intended. Serve will remain with the scoring team.
    5. If two challenges were unsuccessful, the second challenge will result in the team using one of their timeouts for the set.
    6. The leadership board may be asked for their input on the challenge, but the final call will be decided by the game’s referee.
  6. The Uniform
    1. Every player must wear his or her Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh uniform shirt. Shirts may be modified for comfort, but the Stonewall logo and any sponsor logos must not be altered or obscured in any way.
    2. All players must have a clearly marked number on his or her Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh uniform shirt. No two players may have the same number.
    3. It is strongly suggested that all players wear shoes on the court. This is optional, however will be done at an individual player’s own risk.
    4. Knee pads and other protective equipment are not required but can be worn.
  7. Playoffs/Final Tournament
    1. At the conclusion of the regular season, a final playoff tournament will be held.
    2. The seeding for the tournament will be determined by the following:
      1. Final standings from the regular season
      2. Intent to have teams play teams they have not played during the regular season
      3. Respect to the availability of the tournament venue and team schedules
  8. Season Standings
    1. Each week, league management will update the league standings.
    2. League standings are determined (in the following order) by:
      1. Win-loss record
      2. Overall point differential
      3. If a tie is present after the first two criteria are determined, the team with the lower points-scored-against (PSA) will be ranked higher in the standings.
  9. Referees/Line Judges
    1. Each team must have at least one (1) member eligible to serve as a referee. In order to be an eligible referee, the team member must attend the referee clinic. The referee schedule will be determined following the referee clinic held before the beginning of the season.
    2. If the assigned referee is unable to serve for an assigned match, then they must notify the head referee at least 24 hours before the match or the team start down 10 to 0 for their next match.
    3. Each team will be required to provide two (2) individuals to serve as line judges. If a team does not provide the two (2) line judges that week, the team will start down 10 to 0 (5 points pre missing judge) for their match that week.
    4. Line judges and referees may be assigned to games before or after their assigned match time.
    5. Repeated offenses of not providing referees or line judges (3+ games) throughout the season may result in a team being ineligible to participate in the playoffs, at the leadership board’s discretion.
  10. Forfeits and Scoring
    1. If a team is assigned a forfeit for a match due to failure to present a full team at match time, the score for that match will be recorded as 2-0 and the score for each set will be recorded as 25-0.
  11. Misconduct
    1. During the game, if a player(s) exhibits any behavior that breaches a rule of the league or the Stonewall Sports Pittsburgh organization, verbal warnings and/or removal from the match can be issued by the game’s referee.
    2. Warnings will be issued in 3 stages:
      1. Verbal warning to the Captain
      2. Verbal warning to the individual(s) committing the discretion, but in force for the entire team. Service will be given to the opposing team.
      3. Player is removed from the match by the referee. The player may be substituted.
    3. If a player(s) is removed from the match, the Stonewall Sand Volleyball Pittsburgh leadership board will review the reason for removal and meet with the individual(s) involved for further disciplinary action as outlined in the bylaws.
  12. Rule changes
    1. Any prolonged, open hand hit completed below the shoulder, will be considered a carry and called by the referee.
      1. All hits below the shoulder must be completed with a closed fist or the back of the hand only.
      2. If an open hand hit is committed, and called by the referee, the opposing team will gain the point and the service.
    2.  Each server is allowed 1 ball drop per serve.
      1. Once the ball hits the ground, the referee will call a replay and the server must again wait until the whistle is blown prior to serving.
      2. The must allow the ball to drop, with no contact being made to be considered a clean drop.
      3. If the player makes contact with the ball, prior to hitting the ground, this will be considered a fault and the opposing team will gain the point and the service.
        1. Teams will receive only 1 warning per match if contact is made before hitting the ground.
    3. Players will receive 1 warning per match for a service fault. If the player crosses the boundary line prior to making contact with the ball, this will result in a replay and a warning.  If the act is committed again by the same player, following the referee’s warning, the opposing team will gain the point and the service.