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Use of Libero Player in High School Volleyball Takes Full Effect in 2006-07

Contact: Becky Oakes

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 31, 2006) — As the official implementation of the libero player in high school volleyball occurs during the 2006-07 season, the NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee, at its January 8-9 meeting in Indianapolis, incorporated all stipulations regarding the libero approved last year into the body of the NFHS Volleyball Rules Book.

Following are stipulations regarding the libero that will be incorporated into the 2006-07 rules book:

• The libero is a back-row player who is a passing and defensive specialist.

• In order to be used, the libero must be designated on the lineup sheet. If a libero is not designated on the lineup sheet, the team may not use a libero in that game.

• The libero is restricted to perform as a back-row player. He/she can serve, but cannot block or attack from anywhere if, at the moment of contact, the ball is entirely above the net.

• The libero must wear a specific uniform with a legal number.

• The libero may replace any player in a back-row position. The replacement is not counted as a substitution. The libero can only be replaced by the player whom he/she replaced.

A new section in Rule 10 was created to define when, how and where a libero replacement takes place; when the replacement is illegal; redesignation of the libero; proper procedures for handling exceptional substitutions; and disqualifications involving the libero. In various rules throughout the book, language was added to incorporate uniform numbering, location of the libero at the moment of serve, game administration and penalties involving unnecessary delay.

In other changes involving the libero, Rule 7-1-1b requires that the designated libero be identified on the team roster by listing an “L” before the uniform number of the libero.

Becky Oakes, who joins the NFHS staff February 1 and will serve as liaison to the Volleyball Rules Committee, said that to assist schools in supplying libero uniform tops without excessive costs, the libero may have two uniform numbers. When listing the libero on the roster, the non-libero number is first, followed by the libero number (e.g., 15/L4). Oakes noted that the second number cannot be a duplicate of any other number on the roster.

Another change due to the addition of libero play is the creation of an assistant scorer position. The responsibility of the assistant scorer is to record libero replacements, and this individual will be located next to the official scorer at the scorer’s table.

Besides the official introduction of the libero into the game next year, a change in Rule 12-2-6 will allow the head coach to stand in the libero replacement zone during any dead ball to instruct his or her players. The privilege is lost and the head coach must remain seated as outlined in Rule 12-2-5 if a card is issued to anyone on the team bench.

Oakes noted that coaches may only stand during a dead ball. Once the referee extends his or her arm in preparation to beckon for serve, the coach must be seated.

The rules committee determined a change was needed in the definition of a block, which now states “having a player close to the net who is reaching higher than the net and deflects the ball coming from an opponent.” The previous definition created play situations in which officials were judging intent, and in some cases the action of a back-row player who was nowhere near the top of the net was considered to attempt a block and play was illegal, Oakes said.

Two changes were made in Rule 2 regarding the court. A note was added to Rule 2-1-4, which clarifies the flexibility for the centerline court marking to be a shadow line that designates the required 2-inch centerline. Rule 2-2-2 now states that cables, which are used to retract a ceiling-suspended net system and located only on one side of the net, are playable overhead obstructions.

Regarding uniforms, Rule 4-2-3f now states that the placement of numbers on the center front of the uniform top may now be located no more than 5 inches below the bottom edge of any neckline, ribbing, placket or seam. Oakes said that this change does not make any existing legal uniform illegal and does not change the requirement if the number is on the upper left/right of the jersey.

With a change in Rule 5-4-1d, the umpire shall verify that the lineup has been entered correctly on the scoresheet.

“Previously, errors have been made transposing the lineup from the coaches’ lineup sheets to the official scoresheet,” Oakes said. “Verification of the transfer of the lineup to the scoresheet by the umpire prior to the match will eliminate these mistakes.”

Volleyball is the third-most popular sport for girls at the high school level, with 386,022 participants, according to the 2004-05 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey. It also ranks third in school sponsorship for girls with 14,526 high schools offering the sport. In addition, a total of 41,637 boys participated in volleyball in 2004-05 at 1,688 high schools.






Transitioning to Libero Player


The Player
Six players are listed on the lineup sheet in the floor position they occupy at the start of the game. A team may also list one specialized defensive player called the "libero" on the lineup sheet for each game. If a libero is not designated on the lineup sheet for a game, that team may not use a libero in that game. A player designated as the libero can play as a non-libero player in that game. (Exception: Rule 10-3-6 - Exceptional Substitution)

A. Playing actions:
1. The libero is restricted to perform as a back-row player, and is not allowed to complete an attack from anywhere (on or off the court) if, at the moment of contact, the ball is entirely above the height of the net.
2. The libero may not block or attempt to block.
3. A teammate may not complete an attack when, at the moment of the attack, the ball is entirely above the height of the net and the ball is coming from an overhand finger pass by a libero on or in front of the attack line. The ball may be freely attacked if the libero overhand finger passes from behind the attack line. If airborne, the libero's position is judged according to the point of last contact with his/her team's court.

B. Libero replacements:
1. The libero is allowed to replace any player in a back-row position.
2. Replacements involving the libero are not counted as substitutions, and are unlimited. There must be at least one rally between two libero replacements. The libero can only be replaced by the player whom he/she replaced. An incorrect libero replacement is penalized with a delay of game if the officials identify and correct the situation prior to the next service contact. If identified after service contact, a position fault results.
3. Replacements can only take place after the end of a rally or at the start of each game after the umpire has verified the starting lineup. The replacement must occur while the ball is out of play and before the referee signals for serve. A replacement will not be allowed after the signals for serve.
4. A libero and the player replaced by the libero must enter or leave the court only by the sideline in front of their team bench between the attack line and the end line.

C. Uniform
The libero must wear a uniform top that is immediately recognized from all angles as being in clear contrast to and distinct from the other members of the team. The primary color of the libero's uniform top must be different from any color that appears on more than 25 percent of the body of her teammates' uniform tops. In determining the body of the uniforms, the sleeves and collar should be ignored. The libero uniform must have a legal number. The style and trim of the libero's uniform top may differ from her teammates' uniforms, but her shorts must be like-colored to her teammates.

D. Injury Substitution
If the libero is injured and cannot continue play, he/she must first be replaced by the player whom he/she replaced. Then, a new libero may be re-designated using the following criteria:
1. Redesignation does not need to occur immediately after the injury and replacement, but may occur at the discretion of the coach(es).
2. When redesignation does occur, any substitute may be redesignated as libero for the injured libero. The injured libero may not play in the remainder of that game.
3. The player redesignated as libero must wear a libero uniform and must remain the libero for the rest of the game. The redesignated libero's uniform must have a unique number (not worn by any teammate), but, because of the injury situation, not necessarily the same number with which the player started the match.

E. Exceptional Substitution
The libero may be used as an exceptional substitution for another injured player if no other possible substitutes exist. When no longer playing as a libero, that player must wear the same uniform as her teammates, and the team continues play with no libero.

F. Disqualification Substitution
The libero may not be used as a substitute for an expelled or disqualified teammate. If no legal substitute is available for an expelled or disqualified teammate, that team will be declared incomplete and will default the game or match, as appropriate.

G. Libero Disqualification
If the libero is expelled or disqualified while playing, he/she must be replaced by the player whom he/she replaced. The team continues play with no libero player.

An individual other than the scorekeeper must be provided to track the entries of the libero player. This assistant scorekeeper is charged with tracking the libero replacements. There are two important procedures that the assistant scorekeeper is responsible for enforcing. The first procedure is to assure that once the libero is replaced, at least one rally must take place before the libero can replace another player. The second procedure is to ensure that when the libero leaves the court, the player replacing the libero must be the same player that the libero replaced when he/she last entered the game.

Scorekeeper and Assistant Scorekeeper (libero tracker) Duties:

Before the start of each game, the scorekeeper will:
a. Obtain the lineup sheets from the umpire and record the uniform numbers of the starting players in serving order and the libero on the scorebook. Opponents will not be permitted to see the lineup submitted by the opposing team prior to the start of play.
b. Ensure that the assistant scorekeeper (libero tracker) accurately records the lineups on the libero tracking sheet.

After the toss of the coin and before each game:
a. Review the lineups submitted to ensure that a captain is indicated, no duplicate or illegal numbers are entered, and the libero's number is noted. If no libero is indicated, as a courtesy (clarifies it's not a rule) notify the umpire so the coach can verify that no libero will be utilized in the current game.
b. Record the team information and the positions of the player on the court according to the serving order on the lineup sheet.
c. Record all libero replacements accurately, so the libero tracking sheet reflects the players actually on the court at all times.
d. If an incorrect libero replacement occurs, notify the umpire unless the team immediately fixes the illegality with no delay.

During the match, the assistant scorekeeper will:
a. Record all substitutions and libero replacements on the libero tracking sheet.
b. Notify the officials if the libero is replaced by an incorrect player, or if an undesignated libero enters the game.
c. Notify the officials if the libero does not remain out of the game for one rally between replacements.
d. Communicate and coordinate with the scorekeeper to ensure accuracy of both the scorebook and the libero tracking sheet.