AVP to Implement Two Rule Changes in Chicago

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The decision-makers of the volleyball world seem to enjoy nothing more than tweaking the rules of the game. Smaller court, libero can serve, libero can't serve, overhand pass the serve, double hits on the first contact, touch the net anywhere but the tape, don't touch the net at all… In the latest rules development, the AVP has announced various changes to be implemented at the Chicago Open, September 1-4. 

In Chicago, the AVP will revert to the old school tradition of barring let serves, or serves that touch the net and stay in bounds. If a player's serve contacts the net, the server gets a second chance to execute a legal serve, much like in tennis. If the second attempt also contacts the net or goes out, a point is awarded to the receiving team. 

The second alternation will change the scoring format from rally to side-out once one team reaches match point. 

The press release from the AVP, which features a series of arguments and rebuttals surrounding its rule changes, is as follows: 

RULE CHANGES TO BE IMPLEMENTED AT 2016 AVP CHICAGO OPEN

-- Two new rule changes regarding let service situations as well as the scoring format once a team reaches match point --

(Newport Beach, CA) -- In an effort to mix the old with the new for the betterment of the sport of beach volleyball, the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) will be instituting two rule changes at the 2016 AVP Chicago Open. The rule changes will be introduced after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics so as not to interfere with the current rules. Before implementing the rule changes, AVP spoke with the player's committee as well as a group of core officials ensuring that the changes were in the best interest of both the athletes as well as fans of the sport of beach volleyball. 

The two rule changes will focus on let service situations as well as the scoring format once a team reaches match point. Since its inception to the sport, the permissive "let" serve that drops for a point has been highly criticized as essentially rewarding a mistaken shot. As for the scoring change initiative, while we have come to understand and appreciate the need for rally scoring in the sport of beach volleyball, we can all admit that in the heart of every fan is a desire to see that ultimate comeback from the brink of defeat. The hybrid scoring system allows for the consistency of rally scoring, while introducing the possibility of the unbelievable comeback that could only happen with a transition to side-out scoring. The basic changes to the rules as well as potential argument and rebuttal positions are included below: 

Let Service Situations 

  • If a "first" serve touches the net and stays inbounds on the opponent's side of the court, no point is awarded, but the serving team earns a second service attempt 
  • The "second" service attempt must be "clean" with no net touch to be considered legal 
  • If the "second" serve touches the net again, regardless of where it lands, it's ruled as a missed serve and point awarded to receiving team 

Argument 1 -- The service let rule would require serves that hit the net and land inbounds to be replayed. This both slows down the match and increases its length. 

Rebuttal -- Service lets are very infrequent, and the delays they cause are quite minimal. When a service let does occur, players will have a second opportunity to serve the ball to the opposing team. After a second chance, should the player serving hit the net again, the opposing team gains the point. 

Argument 2 -- Currently, without the let service rule, athletes are pushed to a higher level of performance. 

Rebuttal -- The contrary is true. Playing without the service let actually lowers the caliber of play for both the server and receiver. Why? How? The two criteria for evaluating a serve are (1) quality (its power, depth, accuracy, effective spin and variety) and (2) consistency. Allowing the flukish service let rebounds diminishes serving quality as well as inadvertently and wrongly increases serving consistency. From the standpoint of service receipt, a let serve reduces the importance of a sound and effective return of serve and thus further encourages mediocrity. 

Argument 3 -- Since service lets are unpredictable and often bizarre, keeping the rule as is leaves the element of luck in the game and adds spice to the sport. 

Rebuttal -- Volleyball is and should remain wonderful tests of skill and will. Instituting the service let rule would offer a fair test of superiority, increasing the odds that the more skillful and stronger-willed team will eventually prevail. 

Argument 4 -- As it stands, the lack of a let service rule does not really give anyone (the server or the receiver) any advantages. 

Rebuttal -- This claim is ridiculous! Service lets consist of (1) balls that hit the net and fall down becoming certain aces; and (2) balls that pop up high into the air asking to be put away. 

Argument 5 -- Arguments between players and referees about whether a service let was called and should not have been, or vice versa, are going to be unwanted distractions and slow down play. 

Rebuttal -- The initial serve rule was in place for the first 25 years of beach volleyball and there were virtually no conflicting issues with players and officials. Since service lets occur infrequently and the overwhelming majority of them are extremely obvious, disputes will be rare and almost always short-lived. 

Point Freeze on Match Point 

  • Once a team reaches potential match point (has to be in either the 2nd and/or 3rd set), scoring will revert to side-out method for remainder of set 
  • Both teams will be subject to side-out scoring for remainder of match 
  • A team must serve in order to score a point in side-out scoring format 
  • Side change protocol will continue in multiples of 7 in 2nd set or 5 in 3rd set as tracked by match official 
  • There will be no additional time-outs allocated to any set that is converted to side-out scoring 
  • All sets converted to side-out scoring will still require a team to win by 2 or more points 

Argument 1 -- Side-out scoring is boring -- it makes the game slow and can have long stretches with no points.

Rebuttal -- While the scoring aspect of a match may slow, the excitement of every point only heightens as a side-out sudden death match continues. The purpose of this hybrid scoring system is to ensure each game ends with a team earning the final point. Additionally, it enables fantastic comebacks and with that unequaled levels of excitement.

Argument 2 -- Unlike side-out scoring, rally scoring forces teams to play consistently. 

Rebuttal -- That claim is untrue! In side-out scoring, serving teams must consistently play at their highest level and figure out a way to stop the opposing team to score points. On the other side of the spectrum, losing teams must consistently play at their highest level as well if they want any chance of getting back in the game. 

Argument 3 -- Serving accuracy is much more important for rally scoring. 

Rebuttal -- Serving accuracy is just as important, if not more important, for side-out scoring. While it is true that teams must be careful on their serves under rally scoring because a bad serve would essentially be giving the opposing team a free point, the same can be said about side-out scoring. Under side-out scoring, teams must be careful on their serves as well if they want to earn the point.

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