You may have heard that volleyball is one of those sports that, similar to something like golf or tennis, has no set time limit.
This can make predicting how long you need to set aside to attend a match pretty difficult, whether you’re a spectator or a player.
The reason for this is there are a large number of variables that come into play regarding the scoring that impact how long the game goes on, rather than having a length of time that you play for, like football or basketball.
However, just because there’s no set time limit for a game of volleyball doesn’t mean that we can’t make predictions based on averages.
The average length of a volleyball game will depend on many things, including the level of play. For example, a high school game isn’t going to take as long as a varsity or college-level game.
So, whether you’re a high school freshman preparing for your first volleyball match, a proud parent who needs to know how long they’re parking their car for, or a friend who wants to make sure they pace themselves so they can cheer for the entirety of the match, read on for all the information you need to know about the length of a high school volleyball game.
The Length of A Game of Volleyball
A high school game of volleyball will typically last about an hour. Of course, there is likely to be some fluctuation depending on a number of factors that we will go into detail about later.
Usually, a JV (freshman) team will play a “best-of-three” game, where either side only has to win two sets in order to be the victors overall. Each set only lasts about 20-25 minutes, so even if they end up having to play all three sets to find the winner, you should still be finished in about an hour.
However, if you’re watching or playing in a varsity match, then the game will most likely end up being played “best-of-five”. In this case, you should expect to be in the gym for about an hour and a half for the game.
As well as this, the rate of return (something we’ll look at further in a minute) and the higher level of play will also be factors that make the game run for longer than a freshman match.
Further Levels Of Play
Though a lot of people will get their start in high school volleyball, it’s possible to go further and continue playing volleyball through college as well.
Once you’re at this level, the length of the games should last a similar amount of time as a varsity match, though again, this can fluctuate pretty wildly.
This is because there is a massive chance for disparity in ability at the college level.
You might expect college-level volleyball to be similar to college football in that the players are practically semi-professional at this point. However, the reality is quite different.
There could be students playing college volleyball who have never played before and just wanted to pick up a hobby.
At the same time, it’s just as likely that there will be people playing on a team who have been playing for years and have aspirations of going pro.
Not only does this make for a greater difference in how long the matches can go on, but also makes for a very entertaining game.
What Factors Affect The Length Of A Volleyball Game?
Number of Sets
The most important factor that’s going to impact the length of time that you’re playing the game is the number of sets.
As we said, a game played in middle school or high school will more likely be a “best-of-three”, meaning that either team only has to win two sets.
You win a set by tallying 25 points during play, so long as you’re more than two points ahead of the opposing team.
If you’re playing a game at a higher level, you’ll probably be playing to the best of five. More sets mean that the game will go on longer – basic stuff. Or so you might think.
Because you must have a two-point lead in order to win, it’s possible that teams with a close back-and-forth may end up going well past 25 points before they win.
If this is the case, you can be waiting for the game to be over for a lot longer.
Another important factor that you have to consider when you think of how long a high school volleyball match will last is the number of time stops that occur.
There are several reasons that play may be suspended, be it timeouts, substitutions, or breaks, but regardless of the reason, the more time the athletes spend out-of-play, the longer you’re going to be in that gymnasium.
Indoor vs Outdoor
This is less important when talking about high school volleyball. However, you need to consider whether you’re inside or outside at the beach when you guess how long the game will last.
This is because beach games are always played to the best of three, with sets played to 21 points rather than 25, making beach games significantly shorter.
Further reading: Volleyball drill ideas.
So now that you know that sets typically last 20-25 minutes and that the majority of middle and high school games will consist of 2 or 3 sets, you can work out that the average game of high school volleyball should only take around an hour.
However, if you’re watching or playing in a varsity game, you can expect to be playing up to 5 sets instead.
Always keep in mind that time stops can affect the length of the game.
Ready to learn more? Discover how long a typical high school softball game lasts.
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