When my opponent first serves a ball, can I set and pass the ball over the net? My friend told me that this is a fault - but the ball was coming towards my face, so I don't see what else could I do.


You can tell your friend to learn the rules. It is not a fault to set the ball back over the net on the first contact. Two exceptions to this:

  • If you are playing beach volleyball as opposed to indoor volleyball, you cannot set the first contact at all - it doesn't matter if it goes over the net or not.
  • You may not play the serve directly back over the net if the ball is entirely higher than the top of the net and in the front zone (Rule 13.2.4). Basically this is "you can't block the serve", but it equally applies to setting the ball back if the ball is higher than the top of the net; perhaps it is this rule which is confusing your friend.

However, none of this means it's a good idea to play the ball directly back - you should always be trying to pass the ball to your own side one way or another.

  • In addition, in Germany, there's a rule for underage players (under fourteen years) called "Pflichtzuspiel". It forbids to play the ball over the net on the first touch. – cadaniluk Sep 26 '15 at 14:51

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