This year, I begin my 12th season scoring NCAA Division I women’s volleyball.1 In that time, I’ve seen several changes to the scoring process. None of those, however, is as significant as the introduction of computerized scoring — e-score in NCAA parlance.
There are two major programs available for volleyball scoring:
I have used both products and I find VolleyWrite to be far more intuitive to the scoring process and easier to use. It is this program that I will discuss in the remainder of this blog post. I may, however, make some comparisons to Escoresheet as appropriate.
It is not my intention to get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of volleyball scoring or of how to use the program. I will provide just a few examples of how scoring a volleyball match is made easier using the software.
Before the Match
In either program, the scorer must enter the team rosters for both teams involved in the match. In theVolleyWrite program, this is as simple as entering player jersey numbers onto the screen. One of the reasons that I prefer VolleyWrite over Escoresheet is that Escoresheet requires entry of unnecessary information. The program requires entry of each player’s number, the player’s first and last name in separate fields, and a unique player identification number or code. In international volleyball, this code is assigned.
However, college volleyball in the US does not use anything similar. Thus, the scorer has to ‘make up’ some kind of identifier. Additionally, the ‘made-up’ identifier must be unique among all teams scored on that computer. The scorer in US volleyball never uses this information since it is not even official information. So its enter is merely a time-consuming and unnecessary exercise.
Either program presents the scorer with a visual representation of the volleyball court. Figure 1 shows the court screen for VolleyWrite. For those who have scored volleyball using the traditional paper system, it is easy to see how the electronic system makes keeping track of player location much easier.
Also, as any scorer knows, the most time-consuming part of volleyball scoring is recording substitutions. The rules require that substitutions be verified. After verification by the R2, the scorer records each substitution in three different places on the score sheet.
With electronic scoring, substitutions are as easy as clicking on a player’s number on a list of player numbers under the main court display. The scorer then ‘drags and drops’ the new number to the substituted position. The program will not allow a substitution in violation of the rules – a major benefit of electronic scoring.
The ‘Paper’ Scoresheet
While the actual actions required of the score are much simplified, the software simultaneously creates a standard score sheet. This can subsequently be printed for use by coaching staffs. Figure 2 displays such a scoresheet, as created by the actions which resulted in the court display shown in Figure 1. At the end of the match, the scoresheet is automatically printed.
The NCAA 2016 rules for women’s volleyball allow electronic scoring at all levels of the collegiate sport. Additionally, many club volleyball associations and state high school athletic associations allow electronic scoring in their respective areas.
At this time, the majority of colleges, as well as lower levels of volleyball, are still using paper scoring. This is in part due to the cost involved. Electronic scoring requires the use of a dedicated computer, at least for the duration of the match. An external monitor, while not required, displays match information for the R2, or ‘down’ referee. And finally, a printer is required to print the ‘paper’ scoresheet. In contrast, paper scoring requires only the scoring forms and a writing implement.
Consequently, the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials (PAVO) requires that every certified volleyball scorer complete at least one match per year using paper scoring. For certification purposes, a designated official must review this scoring effort. This is true even if the scorer otherwise uses an electronic system exclusively.
The various levels of volleyball each have their own set of rules. The VolleyWrite software includes predesignated rule templates for the following levels:
- NCAA college, men’s and women’s
- Club volleyball
- High school volleyball
- F IVB international volleyball
To my knowledge, Escoresheet only includes rules for:
- F IVB international volleyball
- NCAA college
I predict that electronic scoring will continue to gain acceptance in the volleyball world. While it does not replace qualified scorers, it makes the task much easier. However, even with electronic scoring, the scorer still must understand volleyball scoring process to handle unusual situations.
Personally, I use electronic scoring almost exclusively now.
- Author’s Note: I wrote this article in 2016. In 2020, I updated the article to describe additional functionality of the VolleyWrite program. I also provided additional thoughts on my experiences.