What is an Ace in Volleyball?

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The word “ace” means many things in the English language, but in the context of volleyball, its definitions are a little complex. The ace serve is something you want for your team because it can turn the tide of games so well. To figure out how it works, we must start by answering the question: what is an ace in volleyball?

An ace occurs in a volleyball match when a player scores a point directly from a service. A server gets an ace when the ball bounces off the opposing team’s side of the court or when they try to receive it but fail. When an ace occurs, the opposition loses the rally without having a chance to mount an attack of their own.

In this post, we’ll explore more details about the ace in volleyball and how you can become better at achieving it. Topics  include the following:

  • What Does and Doesn’t Count as a Volleyball Ace
  • Types of Volleyball Ace
  • Types of Service in Volleyball
  • How to Get More Serving Aces    
  • Related Questions
  • Conclusion

What Does and Doesn’t Count as a Volleyball Ace

The ace can appear to be a simple principle, but volleyball can be unpredictable. Hence, situations may occur that make it unclear whether or not a service was an ace.

It’s important to tell the difference because the statistics of the number of aces per serve could indicate how good a player is at serving. That is one of the reasons why the term “ace” is also used to refer to a player who excels at scoring aces.

Having an exceptional server in the team is invaluable because it not only brings in more points but also makes it difficult for opponents to receive a service without putting in the extra effort.

Below are the cases that count and don’t count as aces in both indoor and beach volleyball.

What Counts

Hitting the Ground Directly

You have made an ace when the served ball lands unopposed in the opponent’s court.

Hitting a Player Before the Ground

If the ball bounces off an opponent before hitting the ground on their side of the court, it’s an ace.

Hitting a Player Before Going Out of Bounds

If the receiver deflects the ball out of bounds on either end of the court, then it’s an ace.

Hitting a Player Before the Net

The served ball bouncing off the receiver and into the net is also considered an ace.

Hitting the Net Before the Ground

If the ball hits the net and then lands on the other team’s court, it counts as an ace.

Hitting the Net Before a Player Fails to Receive

In this case, the ball bounces off the net to the opponent’s side, but the receiver plays it on their ground or out of bounds. That’s an ace.

Forcing a Rule Violation

If, while trying to deal with the service, the receiver commits a rule violation (such as a lift, illegal block, or double hit), it’s an ace.

Rotational Faults

If the receiving team goes out of rotation during the service, then the serving team gets the point and the ace. Opinions on whether rotational faults should count as aces are currently divided. However, the majority of volleyball players and fans consider it an ace.

What Doesn’t Count

Two or More Opponents Playing the Ball

If the receiver knocks the ball to a teammate who then accidentally plays it on their ground, into the net, or out of bounds, the ball will not be considered an ace.

Aces should be an indication of the server’s skill, but multiple opponents playing the ball suggest the point was more about the errors on the other team.

Scoring From the Return

If the opponents successfully receive the serve by returning it over the net and the server spikes it back to score a point, they will not get the ace, even though they gain a point.

Types of Volleyball Ace

There are two main types of volleyball aces. 

Direct Ace

The direct ace is the most simple and obvious. It’s also difficult to pull off. A direct ace occurs when the ball hits the opponent’s side of the court without touching any of their players.

Service that bounces off the net before landing on their court also counts as a direct ace since the ball didn’t touch any other player.

Aces from rotational faults will also fall within this category.

Indirect Ace

The indirect ace occurs when a player from the opposing team contacts the ball before sending it out of bounds, playing it against their ground, or committing a violation.

So long as there’s one legal contact before scoring the ace, it can be considered indirect.

Both kinds of aces are equally impressive and valuable.

Types of Service in Volleyball

The first step to becoming better at making aces is to determine what type of service you’re good at and which one is best for any given situation.

You can start by learning about the four main types of serves in volleyball.

1. Underhand

The underhand serve is the most basic of them all. It’s one of the first skills newbies must know when learning to play volleyball. It involves striking the ball from the bottom with a fist or open hand. The result is a lob that, when aimed correctly, can cause problems for the opposition’s defense.

This service is easy to target. Unfortunately, it’s also the easiest to return.

2. Float

To perform this overhand service, the player has to throw the ball a couple of feet in the air before striking it with the middle of an open palm while keeping the wrist stiff. This move trades a little accuracy in return for a lot more power and momentum.

3. Topspin

This is an overhand service that’s similar to the float serve. The key difference is that the player snaps the wrist just before contacting the ball, creating a spike that spins the ball toward the target. The topspin is difficult to deal with but requires control to avoid playing the ball too far.

4. Jump

The jump serve is always overhand. However, it can be a float or topspin, depending on how the player contacts the ball. A jump topspin requires you to approach the service line after tossing the ball, while a jump float requires you to approach before tossing it.

The jump serve is common in high-level volleyball.

How to Get More Serving Aces in a Volleyball Match

Now that you understand how each type of service works, it’s time to learn tips that will help you get more aces in volleyball games.

Always Pick a Spot

Never serve the ball aimlessly and hope for the best. This is a problem many beginners face, and it undermines their efforts.

You should always pick a target on the opponent’s side before you strike the ball. However, when you strike, try to send it there as accurately as possible. You won’t always hit your target, but it will make your serve a lot better.

Consider the following when picking your target:

  • Gaps in the opponent’s formation
  • Weak passers and defenders
  • Visibly tired players

Taking a mental note of every play will help you collect the data you need to make the right decision.

Target Edges

The spaces just before the lines that mark the court boundaries are key spaces you can learn to exploit. Players will have a harder time getting there on time, especially if you pick a spot using the tip above. Even when they do, they may end up knocking the ball out of bounds.

Aiming for the edges also increases your chances of serving out of bounds, especially with the topspin and float serves. A good server serves the ball to spaces the opponents can’t easily reach.

Try Different Types of Serves

If your opponents find you predictable, they’ll handle your serves easily. That is why you need to mix things up by applying a variety of serving styles seemingly at random.

To pull this off, you need to be decent in both float and topspin service. You should also know how to do them jumping or standing. For this to happen, extensive practice is vital.

We recommend that you get yourself a quality volleyball if you don’t already have one to practice with in your free time.

Your key focus should be improving your aim, technique, and power for multiple serving styles.

Related Questions

How much is an ace worth in volleyball?

An ace is an abstract achievement that doesn’t award more points to the serving team than other forms of scoring. Hence, the ace is only worth one point.

Is the ace the best player in volleyball?

Besides the serving ace, the term “ace” is also used to refer to the main scorer in a volleyball team. Since volleyball is a scoring game, one can consider the ace to be the most valuable player. It doesn’t always take into account how many points the player scores from aces.

Is ace a real volleyball position?

Although most aces usually play as opposite hitters, any position can assume the role of the ace. All that matters is that the team relies on them for most of their scoring efforts.

What is a return ace in volleyball?

This is a rare and unconventional form of ace where the receiving player returns the serve and scores a point in the process.

Final Thoughts on What is an Ace in Volleyball

If you can get your ace rate to 8-9%, you’ll be among the best servers in the game. To achieve that, you should practice hard and follow the tips we offered above.

Getting consistent serving aces will elevate your value in your team, making you an indispensable player with the ability to change games.

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