Rally Scoring System in Volleyball: [Explained]


Today’s volleyball is a fast-paced, heart-racing sport that keeps you rooted at the edge of your seat.

Every single play has the potential to score points for either team, leaving the opposing side scrambling to make a comeback.

However, did you know that volleyball wasn’t always this exciting?

Before the introduction of the rally scoring system, volleyball was a pretty slow-paced, methodical game.

Only the team serving was allowed to score points. And even if the receiving team could ground the ball on the opponent’s side, they wouldn’t get credited with any point, only the right to serve.

rally scoring system in volleyball

So, what exactly is rally scoring? What benefits does it have over the old side-out system?

Well, that’s exactly what we’ll talk about in this article.

What is Rally Scoring?

what is rally scoring

Back in the day, volleyball was played with the side-out scoring system, where only the serving team could score a point. That means even if the receiving team scored, they wouldn’t get any points; they would only get the right to serve.

In rally scoring, however, a point is awarded to the team after every single play or rather “rally,” regardless of whether you are serving or receiving.

With rally scoring, each play ends up with someone scoring. Either team can score points with the following:

  • A successful attack into the opponent’s court
  • An opponent hitting the ball out
  • An opponent hitting the ball into the net
  • An opponent’s serve going out or not going over the net
  • An opponent being whistled for a red card.

The introduction of rally scoring in volleyball has eliminated the side-out system and resulted in faster gameplay, where teams constantly go back and forth to score points.

History of Rally Scoring

rally scoring history

The rally scoring system was first adopted experimentally by the NCAA women’s college volleyball programs in 1995. It proved popular and exciting, leading to a full rollout to all divisions 1, 2, and 3 NCAA women’s volleyball by 2001.

FIVB international volleyball adopted rally scoring for all competitions in 1999, and other agencies soon followed suit. Today, it is standard across amateur, collegiate, professional, and recreational volleyball around the world.

Benefits of Rally Scoring System

rally scoring system benefits

The rally scoring system has made volleyball a much more popular sport with better possibilities for a comeback. Here are the main benefits of adopting the rally scoring:

  • Games and matches are faster paced for a more exciting game for players and spectators
  • Long delays associated with side-out scoring have been eliminated
  • Comebacks are now possible even late in close games since more points are in play
  • Teams must strategize differently since no team has an inherent advantage in serving or receiving
  • Stronger teams with advantages in certain areas are still challenged

The Bottom Line

So, whether you are a seasoned volleyball player or fan or just learning the great sport, understanding the rally scoring system that is now the universal standard is key. Every single play is an important opportunity for either team to add to their score under rally scoring!

Hopefully, our in-depth exploration of the rally scoring system could help eliminate any confusion you had about it.

ABOUT Harvey Meale

As a former international level volleyball player, I now spend my days working out and writing for Volleyball Vault. I look for ways to bring my wealth of experience and knowledge to create unique and insightful perspectives in my content.