September 12, 2016

College Volleyball - NCAA, NAIA and NCCAA questions (and I help Olympic Volleyball)

I saw your Olympic update and can't agree with you more on the men's volleyball, it is very hard to watch and not very exciting.  On that note besides the color of the ball what other changes would help viewership, I think the net should also be raised to 8' 6" instead of the 7'11".  When you have 6' 10" guys who can approach touch 12' it doesn't make the game very entertaining, it's like a 6 foot guy playing basketball on a 9' goal, it just doesn't seem right.  I don't know what they have tried in years past to make the game more entertaining from a viewers perspective, but I wish they would implement a zone scoring system where as an example a back row attack is worth 2 points on a kill or an untouched Ace is a 2 point score.  Other than blocking there really isn't a whole lot of defense being played unless the ball is hit right at someone or within arms reach, the ball just moves so fast that taking a step is to slow. 

I do have a question regarding girls college volleyball.  What are the comparisons / differences between NCAA volleyball and NAIA volleyball?  What should parents and players know about choosing NCAA or NAIA or NCCAA.  My daughter has been focused on NCAA schools and then out of the blue she started getting a lot of interest from NAIA and NCCAA schools.  I know that NCCAA is Christian Faith schools but what is the level of play, scholarship info to know.   Up until they started recruiting her I had no idea there was even a registration site for NAIA eligibility. Even the clubs that my daughter has played for have never even mentioned these other 2 options to my knowledge.       

Thank You,


Thank you for your email and support of

The men's game has grown so physical, that it has overwhelmed the space of the volleyball court and the ability of the cameras to track the ball.  Each generation of athletes gets taller and stronger but the physical dimensions of the playing spaces have stayed the same.  In men's volleyball, including collegiate men's volleyball, everyone is tall.  A 6'3" guys looks small on the court and as you mentioned, the net is a non factor.

I believe the change which is necessary is to change the physical dimensions and not the scoring.  To change the scoring would drastically alter the philosophy of the game and we have too many part time fans to start drastic changes in the protocols of the game; I was coaching when we changed to 'rally score' and I had many part time fans ask why did we change, and no matter my answer, they said they did not understand whey because they enjoyed the game as it was.

Beach Volleyball changed their physical dimensions with mixed results - They reduced the size of the court for men's and women's.  For the women's game, I think it was positive, as it allowed for more rallies and increased excitement.  For the men's game, I believe it was a negative because it reduced rallies and turned it into pass set boom, just like the indoor game.

My perfect physical solution for all of volleyball would be, leave the women's indoor and beach protocols the same. Both of these sports are fun to watch, they have exciting rallies and both sports are enjoying solid national and international support.

For the men's beach game, I would return the beach court to the size of the indoor court and raise the net to 8'6".  This would allow for more rallies and for the 'shorter' player to be successful as they would have more court to work with and not be tied into a hopeless height battle against the net monsters, and it emphasize passing and ball control.  For the indoor game, I would raise the net at least 9'4". This would change the geometry of the game but not the game.  The jump serve would not be as powerful, the attacking and blocking not as dominant, it would increase rallies.  Folks may think that 16 inches is a big increase, but when you see players with their shoulders completely over the net, 16 inches is not big deal.

And, go back to the all white ball - If anyone is confused, google 1984 Olympic Volleyball and notice how easy it is to track the ball on TV when it was all white.

Now that we have solved any issues with the indoor and beach games internationally, let's move onto your college volleyball questions.

I am not as familiar with the National Christian College Athletic Association, other than what I can read online - The full listing of their member schools is ( but this does not necessarily mean each school has women's volleyball.  

As for the comparison between NCAA and NAIA, that is a bit of a brand question, so for volleyball the simple answer is NCAA DII and NAIA are similar in scholarships and playing levels.  NCAA DII and NAIA both package their scholarships with the majority of funding coming via the academic avenues.  Both categories have a wide range of athlete characteristics and programs; some are elite and others are just basic.  In general, the DII and NAIA players tend to be shorter and a bit less dynamic than the NCAA DI players, but there are many NCAA DII and NAIA elite programs which could beat NCAA DI mid to lower level programs.

The NAIA eligibility site is called and recently, they have increased their initially eligibility parameters to more mirror the NCAA. I cannot speak to the eligibility criteria of the NCCAA.

If your daughter is an all around solid player with average height and athleticism, then she would fall into the great middle class of volleyball.  And this great middle class of volleyball (which I have also called the Toyota Camry of volleyball players - Solid, all around good car but nothing dynamic) can see athletes in low DI, DII and NAIA (again, I am not comfortable evaluating the NCCAA level).  This is potential a good thing because it allows the family many more opportunities when considering academic major, school particulars and geographic location.  This can potentially be a bad thing because there are hundreds, if not a thousand schools which fall into the middle class.

As I have written before, the key with any recruiting management is to be clear about what the player/family is most comfortable with, and then reach out to those schools which fit their parameters?  Academically, what does she want to major it or at least what is interesting to her?  Volleyball wise, does she want to play right away or is she willing to work her way into a starting position in year 2 or 3?  What part of the country does she want to live?  Does she want to be close or far from home?  What size school? City or country campus?  These are all questions which must be thought through before and while engaging with college volleyball programs.  

Once a family has defined their needs, then they can reach out to those schools which can best fill those needs.


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