Vball 101

101 Volleyball terms – some official, some just the way it’s said

IVC brings you a comprehensive glossary, vocabulary list, lingo resource, vball dictionary.

But, if you were actually looking for the rules of the game… we’ve got those, too.


1 Ace A serve that lands in the opponent’s court without being touched, or is touched, but unable to be kept in play by one receiving team player.
2 Antenna An attachment to the net to demarcate the sidelines on the court.
3 Assist A player passes or sets to a teammate who attacks the ball for a kill.
4 Attack Any action other than a block or serve that directs the ball toward the opponent’s court.
5 Backcourt attack An attack performed by a back row player. The player must jump from behind the 3-meter line before making contact with the ball, but may land in front of the 3-meter line.
6 Back row attack See Backcourt attack
7 Block One, two or three players jump with hands and arms extended, reaching up above the net, in front of the opposing spiker, to prevent the opponents from hitting the ball into own court.   Called Block, Double block, or Triple block.
8 Block assist Two or three players participate in a successful block at the same time. Also known as a collective block.
9 Campfire defense When a ball falls to the floor at the feet of two or more motionless players. This looks like the players are standing around and staring dumbfoundedly at a campfire.
10 Carry A set with prolonged contact with the ball, resulting in a dead ball and a point for the other team.
11 Center line violation When a player crosses over the center line under the net, encroaching on the opposing team’s court. No violation is made if part of the foot or hand remains in contact with the center line.
12 Chester When a defensive player gets hit in the chest by a spiked ball.
13 Cover the hitter Players on the attacking team cluster near a spiker in order to retrieve rebounds from the opposing blockers.
14 Cross-court shot An attack shot where the ball crosses through the court at an angle.
15 Cut shot A cross-court attack shot with a very pronounced angle, resulting in the ball landing near the 3-meter line.
16 Deep dish A soft set where the ball is caught, dragged down to chest or even navel level, and then back up before being released, resulting in a dead ball and a point to the opposing team.
17 Dig Digging is the ability to prevent the ball from touching one’s court after a spike or attack, particularly a ball that is nearly touching the ground.
18 Dink See Tip
19 Double contact A fault made when the same player makes two consecutive contacts with the ball during play.  Also called a double hit.
20 Double quick hit A variation of the quick hit where two hitters, one in front and one behind the setter, or both in front of the setter, jump to perform a quick hit at the same time.
21 Dump A setter touches the ball lightly rather than sets it, so that it lands on an area of the opponent’s court that is not being covered by the defense.
22 Facial See Six pack
23 Fish A person who gets stuck in the net. Also called Tuna or Flounder.
24 Floater An overhand serve where the ball is hit with no spin so that its path becomes unpredictable. Also called a Float.
25 Free ball An easy ball to return and a free opportunity to pass, set, and attack the opponent.
26 Friendly fire When a player is hit in the head by a teammate’s serve.
27 Heat A particularly hard spike.
28 Husband-and-wife-play When a ball drops untouched between two players because they failed to communicate.
29 Joust Two opposing players contact the ball above the net at the same time. Play continues.
30 Jump serve An overhand serve where the ball is first tossed high in the air, then the player makes a timed approach and jumps to make contact with the ball, hitting it with a lot of pace and topspin.
31 Jump float An overhand serve where the ball is tossed high enough that the player may jump before hitting it similarly to a standing float serve. The ball is tossed lower than a topspin jump serve, but contact is still made while in the air.
32 Kill An attack by a player that is not returnable by the receiving player on the opposing team and leads directly to a point or loss of rally.
33 Kong A one-handed block like King Kong did with the biplanes in the original movie.
34 Left side hitter See Outside hitter
35 Libero Defensive ball-control specialist. Responsible for receiving the attack or serve. Liberos can substitute for any other player on the court during each play, but cannot play another role during that match. Liberos wear a different color jersey than their teammates.
36 Lift See Carry
37 Line shot An attack shot where the ball flies in a straight trajectory parallel to the sidelines.
38 Lollipop A very soft serve. (Too many of these and you might get licked.)
39 Loss of Rally A loss of rally is awarded when the serving team violates a rule during play.
40 Match Made up of games, or sets.
41 Middle blockers Offensive ball-control specialist. Specialized in blocking fast plays from their opponents and then quickly set up a double block at the sides of the court.
42 Middle hitters See Middle blockers
43 Mintonette The original name of the game we now call volleyball.
44 Mishit A player swings and hits the ball with a different speed, direction, or spin than was intended, resulting in unpredictable placement.
45 Monument valley The area between two tall players who can’t play defense.
46 Net foul It is illegal for any part of the player’s uniform or body (except for the hair) to contact the net. Also called Net violation.
47 Off-speed hit A player does not hit the ball hard, reducing its speed and thus confusing the opponent’s defense.
48 One See Quick hit
49 Opposite hitter Offensive ball-control specialist. Their primary responsibilities are to put up a well-formed block against the opponents outside hitter and serve as a backup setter. Sets to the opposite usually go to the right side of the antenna.
50 Out of Alignment A team is out of their rotation order at the moment of service contact.
51 Outside hitters Offensive ball-control specialist. They attack from near the left antenna. The outside hitter is usually the most consistent hitter on the team and gets the most sets.
52 Overhead pass The ball is bounced off the fingertips, arms raised up overhead.
53 Overlap Players must be in their correct positions on the court at the moment of service contact.
54 Pancake An attempt to keep the ball in play by extending an arm out in front the body after diving. The goal is to get the ball to bounce up off the hand to keep it in play.
55 Paint brush The term used when the hitter swings and barely “brushes” the bottom of the ball. The ball often drops over the blockers for a kill.
56 Pass See Overhead pass and Underhand pass
57 Point A point is awarded when one team causes the rally to ends or makes a violation. The point goes to the opposing team.
58 Penalty Point A point awarded to the opposing team of the one that violates a rule during play or a dead ball, resulting in a yellow card.
59 Penetrating the net A player reaches over the net during a block or an attack.
60 Pepper A warm up drill between two players that does not require a net. Players send the ball back and forth to one another using the main skills in volleyball – pass, set, and hit.
61 Pipe See Backcourt attack
62 Quick hit An attack (usually by the middle blocker) where the approach and jump begin before the setter contacts the ball.
63 Rainbow A soft shot over the blockers that arcs like a rainbow.
64 Rally A rally is the time between the serve and the end of the play. In some volleyball terminology a rally is synonymous with volley.
65 Rally scoring Every rally results in a point being scored, either by the team serving or the team receiving.
66 Red card A penalty for extreme misconduct; results in a player/coach being disqualified and the team losing the point.
67 Redwood A tall, but not particularly agile, blocker.
68 Replay A replay is the act of putting the ball in play (other than at the start of the game) without awarding a point or a loss of rally and without a service rotation.
69 Reserve When the server releases the ball for service, then catches it or drops it to the floor.
70 Right side hitter See Opposite hitter
71 Roof See Stuff block
72 Screening The illegal placement of players in order to prevent the opposition from seeing the ball or server.
73 Serve Contact with the ball to initiate play. Also called Service.
74 Set A maneuver in which a ball is purposely directed to a spiker.
75 Setter Offensive ball-control specialist. They aim for the second touch of the ball, and their main responsibility is to place the ball in the air where the attackers can place the ball into the opponents’ court for a point.
76 Shag To pick up and collect court scattered volleyballs at the end of drills or pre-game warm ups.
77 Shank A player unintentionally passes a ball in a wild manner, making the ball unplayable for the setter.
78 Shoot A quick, low-arching set to a hitter hitting outside. Timing is a factor in executing the play effectively.
79 Sideout The receiving team wins the rally. They must rotate positions and are now the serving team.
80 Sideout scoring Old rules where points were only made by the serving team.
81 Six pack When a defensive player gets hit in the head or face by a spiked ball. Also called a facial.
82 Sizzle the pits A hard spike that travels past blocker’s raised arms.
83 Sky ball serve A specific type of underhand serve occasionally used in beach volleyball, where the ball is hit so high it comes down almost in a straight line.
84 Slide A variation of the quick hit that uses a low back set. The middle hitter steps around the setter and hits from behind him or her.
85 Spike An attack play where the ball is forcibly hit into the opponent’s court with a one-handed, overhead motion. One who spikes is called a spiker.
86 Stack See Double quick hit
87 Substitution Players may be substituted in and out of the game depending on the rules of play.
88 Stuff block A player jumps above the net and blocks the ball back into the opposing player that spiked it.
89 Tandem See Double quick hit
90 Throw See Carry
91 Tip An attacker touches the ball lightly rather than hits it, so that it lands on an area of the opponent’s court that is not being covered by the defense.
92 Timeout A break in action. Most rules allow for a team to call two timeouts per game (or set).
93 Tool Deliberately hitting the ball off the block for a kill. Also called a wipe.
94 Topspin serve An overhand serve where the player tosses the ball high and hits it with a wrist span, giving it topspin which causes it to drop faster than it would otherwise and helps maintain a straight flight path.
95 Trap set A set very tight to the net and often very low, invariably leading to a stuff.
96 Underhand pass The ball is bounced off a player’s forearms that have been together at the front of the body, elbows touching.
97 Underhand serve A serve in which the player strikes the ball below the waist instead of tossing it up and striking it with an overhand throwing motion.
98 Uniform/Equipment violations Penalty given for attempting/wearing wearing illegal equipment during the game.
99 Volley Keeping the ball in play and returning it to your opponent without committing any playing faults. Also called rally.
100 Wipe See Tool
101 Yellow card A warning for misconduct indicated by display of a yellow card.