A video review system to challenge calls in college volleyball may be here to stay.

During its meeting this week in Indianapolis, the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee recommended that the challenge review system become a permanent rule in the sport for schools and conferences that choose to implement it, starting with the 2016 season.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss the women’s volleyball rules proposals via conference call Feb. 25.

If approved, any team or conference in any division could implement the rule, but it will not be required. The challenge review system was used on an experimental basis by the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences during the 2015 season. All coaches who experimented with the rule indicated after the season that they were in favor of the challenge review system becoming a permanent rule.

If approved next month, the Divisions I, II and III Women’s Volleyball Committees will decide how the challenge review system will be implemented during the three NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships.

The protocol for the proposed rules change is as follows:

• Each team would have three challenges per match. Challenges would not be tied to timeouts.

• Only the team that lost the rally would be able to challenge. If the challenge is reversed, the team that lost the review would be able to challenge another aspect of the point. Each team would be limited to one challenge per rally.

• A coach would need to make the challenge before the referee’s arm is extended for service to begin the next point.

There must be indisputable video evidence in order for the official to change the original call. Coaches will be allowed to challenge the following plays:

• Net faults: players contacting the net/antenna.

• Player touching the ball: four hits/blocker/defensive player.

• Whether a ball was in or out (this includes pancakes and whether the ball touched the antenna).

• Service foot faults.

“It is exciting that any campus can choose to implement this rule using its current technology,” said Kelley Kish, committee rules chair and associate director of athletics at Nova Southeastern University. “Whether a match is Web streamed or televised, the challenge review system can be used. We want to give the officials a tool to help get calls right.”

Pursuit rule elimination recommended

The committee recommended the elimination of the pursuit rule, beginning with the 2016 season.

The rule has been a thorough topic of committee discussions for the past two years as the group debated whether the rule should be modified or abolished. The committee received a rules proposal to eliminate the pursuit rule this year. Safety concerns for players, coaches and officials were the driving force behind the discussion.

The pursuit rule, which was amended in 2010, allows players to cross under the net or net cable to retrieve the ball into the opponent’s free zone (out of bounds but past the net). The ball must be played to the outside of the antenna to a teammate for play to continue.

Committee members acknowledged that while the play occurs infrequently, it can be exciting for the fans. However, after watching video clips of plays where the pursuit rule was used, committee members saw numerous collisions and near-collisions. Data also showed an increase in injuries as a result of the rule. The committee thought the risk of an injury, including some that could be catastrophic in nature, was enough to recommend removing the rule. 

“This has been on the committee’s radar for years,” Kish said. “We heard about it again this year through proposals that were submitted by the membership. We are in a position to be caretakers for the game, and for the student-athletes participating in it.”