THE POLL

Team A’s Libero, in the front zone, uses finger action to set the ball, which enters the plane of the net. Her MB and Team B’s MB contact the ball simultaneously (joust). What’s the call?

  • Point Team B. Illegal attack of hand set by Libero. – 78%
  • Play on. – 22%

TOM BLUE RESPONDS:

In this situation, had any player on team A but the Libero set the ball using finger action, the correct response would be “Play on” with Rule 9.1.2.3 governing the action. That Rule states: “If simultaneous hits by two opponents above the net lead to extended contact with the ball, play continues.” This is the “joust” rule which has been in place for a number of years.

However, the correct solution to this situation comes from an analysis of Rules 19.3.1.4 and 13.1.3.  Rule 19.3.1.4 tells us: “A player may not complete an attack hit from higher than the top of the net, if the ball is coming from an overhand finger pass by a Libero in his/her front zone or its extension.”  13.1.3 states: “An attack hit is completed at the moment the ball completely crosses the vertical plane of the net or is touched by an opponent.”

In our case, the middle blocker from attacking team A contacts the ball at the same time as the ball is contacted by the middle blocker from team B. Since the facts stated say there was a joust, we presume there was extended contact by the opponents over the net. But even if there was no extended contact, the execution of the attack and the block happened at the same time. Accordingly, the attack by team A’s middle was completed at the same moment, since there was a simultaneous block by team B’s middle. Therefore, the prohibition stated by Rule 19.3.1.4 was what, in fact, happened and the result is an illegal attack by team A.

The referee should signal “illegal attack” an then indicate the team A Libero as the player at fault.