By Pat Brozynski

Just say "nyet" to changing net rule

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I don't always agree with my good friend Tony Baranek, who has been covering volleyball for the Sun-Times' sister paper, The Southtown Star, seemingly since William Morgan invented volleyball in 1895 at the YMCA in Holyoke, Mass. - some would say even before then.

But this time, I wholeheartedly do.

Tony recently penned a column about the disparity between the USAV and National Federation of High School Associations rules governing contact with the net. The USAV allows it (with some restrictions) while high school rules forbid it in all cases.

Tony does not like the rule allowing net contact, and neither do I.

Tony points out that by allowing aggressive play sat the net, you are just asking for kids from both sides to be fearlessly leaping right at the net and landing on each others' feet. Also, it would create a real mess for the officials, who will have more judgment calls than ever to make regarding whether the net contact affected the outcome of the play.

And if I know some (not all, but some) interested parties, an official's interpretation rarely coincides with theirs.

Officials from the Illinois High School Association said a rule change wouldn't take place unless a directive came from the NFHSA, and NFHSA officials said it wouldn't consider adopting the new club rule unless they heard from member state associations that were interested in seeing a change.

I hope the NFHSA never hears from high school coaches. It is bad enough that a serve that tips off the tape can dribble over the net and count as a point. I miss the old days when any serve that even nicked the net was considered a missed serve.

It's like the hanging on the rim rule in high school basketball. I have seen it called, but mostly I have seen it ignored. Players will continue to push the envelope on that rule as long as it is open to an "officials' interpretation."

Of course, I am a purist. I covered tennis for many years and believe that for a ball to be put in play, it cannot touch any object before it touches the ground (other than the serve recipient's partner in doubles, which I always got a kick out of. If I were serving, I'd always aim for the partner. Why risk a return?).

In volleyball, I believe that as long as it is illegal to block a serve, a ball should not be allowed to touch the net on a serve. Nor do I believe that a player under any circumstances should be allowed in the net.

I lost the first argument. I don't want to go 0-for-2.


Congratulations to Marist's 6-foot-4 junior Lauren Zielinski, who recently committed to the University of Georgia, and to West Chicago's 5-10 junior Julia Conard, who has verbally committed to attend Illinois where she is projected as either a libero or defensive specialist.


Apparently, it's not a good year for the Illinois senior class. has released the first half of its Senior Aces list, which ranks the top 100 recruits in the Class of 2011. Only one Illinois senior, Wheaton Warrenville South's Shealyn Kolosky, cracked the list of players ranked 50-100.

Here's what John Tawa of had to say about the Tennessee-bound Kolosky:

At 6-2 and with a legitimate touch above 10-0, Kolosky has ideal size, athletic ability and skill for the middle blocker position. Kolosky is physical -- she hits high and hard and is a big block. She also possesses a fast arm swing, which makes her a capable attacker both in front of and behind the setter. Playing for Sports Performance, Kolosky has received tons of training and match experience playing middle at a high level. She'll be ready to contribute right away when she gets to Tennessee, where she has committed. also listed the last 15 players out of the top 100. That list included Cary-Grove's Kelly Lamberti, who is headed to Ohio in the fall of 2011.

The players ranked Nos. 1-50 will be announced later this week. Stay tuned.

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What about some of the other girls in Illinois that deserve recognition? I can't speak for everyone but Jess Lubic is a legit player. She's going D-1, Northern Illinois University and they are 10-0 in their season already! Let's find the best players in Illinois and get them recognized!

I wonder if the JVA split from USAV has affected some of the senior ratings. 1st Alliance won fifth there this year, yet only a couple of their players were recognized while teams that finished lower had three or four players on the list.

In the end, the colleges will find the talent that's ready for the next level, and Illinois has historically had a lot of college players in the midwest and east coast.

The net violation change is not as "dangerous" as one might think. It actually takes judgement out of the ruling. If a player hits the top tape (that would be the white part), its called be the official. If a player pulls on the net to gain advantage, its called. As for the center line violation, I have not seen anything different from previous seasons in terms of players "FLYING" through the net. Players will do that whether there is a violation or not. I believe the center line rule as it stands now puts more of the game in the hands of the ref's. I have seen points decided by mistaken line violation calls (calling a player under the net when they were not even close to violating the rule as its written) with the response being "They were too close".

Plus, there is no advantage to flying through the net anyhow.

I'm not sure how many matches you see during a typical season, but I normally see 60-75 varsity matches during a typical season. In talking with others that see as many, it is clear that there are indeed many more net violations in the early part of this season than in seasons past. The obvious reason is that they have been coached to be more aggressive at the net during club season. However, as I'm aware that this has been stated in the past concerning other blogs, THIS IS NOT CLUB SEASON! While I applaud aggressive play at the net, I disagree with your perception of not being dangerous. I have seen far more dangerous situations at the net due to more aggressive play and players going after balls that they wouldn't have prior to the rule change by USAV.

As for the center line violations, I don't know where you're watching volleyball nor the officials you are seeing. I'm sure that there are those out there that call matches as you say (and have worked with a few, ONCE). However, as a ranking member of an association whose stated purpose is the education and betterment of officials specifically in volleyball, hearing this type of thing always frustrates me. While there are rules that I don't agree with or believe should be changed, they are the rules and I enforce them equally to the best of my ability.

On The Sidelines is absolutely correct.

It's true that high-level volleyball is more enjoyable without the "incidental" net violations, but if developing players are not taught disciplined technique at the net, there will be more injuries.

I have already witnessed one season-ending ankle injury this month. No ankle suppport or strength training can prepare a high-jumping/blocking player to land on top of a hitters foot that is completely over the line.

A team point for the net/over the line violation is not much consolation for that talented senior and her team.

There's a difference between aggressive and reckless play.
I say yellow card the players for reckless play and have them save their aggressiveness for defense and balls that are not set tight to the net.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on September 7, 2010 8:27 PM.

Here's looking at you, Illinois, from the nation's top volleyball guru was the previous entry in this blog.

Maybe things aren't so bad in Illinois after all is the next entry in this blog.

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