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Women’s Volleyball Recruiting Guide

With more than 470,000 women’s high school volleyball players, how do volleyball recruits stand out from the crowd and get noticed by college coaches?

Only 5.9% of those athletes will go on to compete on a college volleyball team, and a mere 1.2% will play for a Division 1 school. Needless to say, getting recruited to play in college is extremely competitive, and it’s imperative that athletes understand how to successfully navigate the volleyball recruiting process if they want to make it to the next level. 

NCSA provides an in-depth look at the volleyball recruiting process, including insider tips from former collegiate volleyball coaches and players. We help families gauge the right division levels to target, create a recruiting video that will capture coaches’ attention and understand the NCAA volleyball recruiting rules. If it’s your athlete’s goal to compete on a college volleyball team, this detailed information will help your family ace the volleyball recruiting process. 

NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 volleyball coaches cannot contact athletes until June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year of high school

The NCAA is responsible for enforcing its volleyball recruiting rules, which mandate when and how coaches can proactively contact athletes. At the Division 1 and Division 2 levels, most communication is permissible starting June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year in high school. On the other hand, college coaches at the Division 3 and NAIA levels do not have limits on phone calls and electronic communications.

Brush up on the NCAA volleyball recruiting rules and learn how to communicate with college coaches.

Look at the club experience, approach jump and position-specific skills of college volleyball players to help determine which division levels athletes qualify for

One of the most difficult aspects of the volleyball recruiting process is determining which division level an athlete should target based on her athletic talent. The good news: There are some key stats that college coaches look for when evaluating volleyball recruits. D1 coaches want athletes to have experience competing on an open-level club team, the most competitive club division.

Based on college roster data and a survey of college volleyball coaches, we’ve compiled a series of guidelines that illustrate the average qualifications volleyball recruits should fulfill at each position for every division level. For families who aren’t sure which division level their athlete should focus on, these guidelines provide a great baseline to get them on the right track.

Review the average requirements for each division level by position.

Nearly 1,250 colleges could offer athletic scholarships to talented volleyball recruits

For most families, one of the biggest draws to competing on a college volleyball team is the allure of getting a volleyball scholarship. And over 1,200 schools at the Division 1, Division 2, NAIA and junior college levels could offer volleyball scholarships, depending on how well-funded their program is. Though Division 3 schools don’t provide athletic scholarships, they do help connect athletes with other forms of financial aid that can pay for a portion—or all—of the cost of tuition.

At the Division 1 level, volleyball is considered a headcount sport, which means that every scholarship is a full ride to the school. D1 teams are allowed to provide a maximum of 12 full-ride scholarships to talented volleyball recruits. At the other division levels, coaches can divide up their scholarship dollars however they want, usually giving the most money to athletes who have the potential to make an immediate, positive impact on the success of the team.

Get the facts about volleyball scholarships and how to get the best scholarship offer.

Get the attention of college coaches by competing on a club team and attending prominent club tournaments

There’s increasing pressure for volleyball recruits to start the volleyball recruiting process earlier and earlier. According to our survey of college coaches, D1 coaches begin searching for talent the earliest of the division levels, with the majority starting when prospects are in 9th grade. For coaches in power conferences (think: the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC), coaches scout out talented 8th graders, as well as freshmen in high school. D2 and D3 coaches reported that they begin evaluating recruits in 10th grade, and the majority of junior college coaches kick off their evaluations in 11th grade.

Because of this trend toward early recruiting, there’s a lot of pressure on volleyball recruits to become experts in the volleyball recruiting process at a young age. This means young athletes and their families need to understand how to:

We clearly define each step of the volleyball recruiting process, explaining what families need to do and what to expect from college coaches.

Get answers to top volleyball recruiting questions and learn how to approach each step of the process.

College coaches know if they’re interested in an athlete after the first 25 seconds of A volleyball recruiting video

A volleyball recruiting video is a compilation of an athlete’s best plays to showcase her volleyball skillset. While only 3–5 minutes in length, volleyball recruiting videos have to pack a punch, as college coaches use recruiting videos to determine if they will reach out to a volleyball recruit—or move on to the next athlete. In fact, most coaches say that they can tell within the first 25 seconds of a recruiting video if they are interested in that athlete or not.

Creating a volleyball recruiting video is both an art and a science. Based on the athlete’s position and strengths, there’s a certain set of skills that she must include in her video. How those skills are put together and what games the volleyball recruit decides to showcase are really up to families and club and high school coaches. We provide a list of skills coaches look for at each position, and key tips for how to capture the footage your family needs to create your athlete’s best recruiting video.

Create a recruiting video that will capture college coaches’ interest.

The most common way for college coaches to evaluate talent is at National Qualifier tournaments and multi-day club tournaments early in the year

There are a few major club tournaments that volleyball recruits must attend if they want to get recruited by volleyball coaches. National Qualifier tournaments take place almost every weekend in March and April. These tournaments decide which teams get a bid for the Junior National Championships, and they attract the most talented club teams. College coaches know that when they attend these events, there will be hundreds of elite volleyball recruits to evaluate, all in one place.

Volleyball recruits should also try to participate in multi-day tournaments at the beginning of the year. The biggest tournaments usually take place over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and President’s Day weekend. At this point in the year, the college volleyball season has concluded, and college coaches are really ramping up their recruiting efforts. They typically haven’t spent much of their recruiting budgets at this point, and they are very interested in scouting out new talent.

Find the volleyball recruiting events that will help athletes get exposure to the schools they’re interested in.

Get the scoop on the top volleyball colleges in each division and review a full list of colleges that offer women’s volleyball

With more than 1,800 college volleyball teams across the U.S., it can be overwhelming to start the college search process. To provide families with a good starting point, we’ve compiled a list of all the schools that have a women’s volleyball program at each division level. We also analyzed top college volleyball ranking websites to compile a list of the best volleyball colleges at each division level.

Start searching for schools that are the best fit academically, athletically and socially.

FAQs about college volleyball

How many sets in college volleyball?

In college volleyball, matches are played best of five sets. The first four sets are played to 25 points and the fifth and final set is played to 15 points.