With the international season heating up, you have more opportunities to watch Team USA, whether in person. online (FloVolleyball.tv) or broadcast (NBC Sports Network).

While watching, you may notice slight playing rule differences between USA Volleyball matches and the FIVB.

USAV Rules Interpreter Bill Stanley provided a rundown of the key discrepancies.


The most obvious rule difference between FIVB and USAV is substitution. In FIVB play, each team only has six substitutions per set, fewer than in high school, college and USAV matches.


While college volleyball also now utilizes the Challenge Review System, the process for FIVB events is a little different. International teams get two challenges per team for each set, and a team keeps the challenge if it’s successful.

The first referee can also initiate a challenge if they are unsure of a call. In that instance, the referee will not signal who wins a rally immediately. Instead, they signal for a review and award the point based on the review result. In these cases, neither team will have to use a challenge.

End Court Judges

In the FIVB, line judges are called end court judges.

You won’t see end court judges at the corners of the courts like you do at USAV events. End court judges stand at the end of the free zone at the back of the court (near the banners). They still signal everything they normally would (touches, ball in/out, antenna), but not foot faults.

Penetration Under the Net

In international matches, a fault is called if a player’s foot/feet completely crosses the center line into the opponent’s court – it’s automatically called if it’s seen, but it’s also a call that can be challenged.

In USAV matches, the foot is allowed to completely cross the line if it does not interfere with the opponent or present a safety hazard.

Pursuit Rule

Even though USAV allows pursuit (crossing under the net or net cable to retrieve the ball in the opponent’s free zone) if there is enough free zone around the court, it is rarely played. FIVB rules allow players to go anywhere to retrieve the ball provided it falls under the pursuit rule.