With experiment to start this year, it’s time for NCAA to implement instant replay

Jacob Martella

With BYU leading the match 2–1 and the fourth set tied at 24 in the 2014 Final Four game, BYU then-junior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson appeared to hit the ball long out of bounds; however, the down official farthest away from the play said that the ball came off the hands of then-junior libero/outside hitter Amy Neal, resulting in a match point for BYU. The Cougars went on to win the game.

Video replay painted a much cloudier, if not different, picture. ESPN showed a few different angles of the play which made it appear as though the ball never touched Neal’s hand, reviving the debate about instant replay.

“I think we need to look at some instant replays and some abilities to make some calls, because it’s difficult when you get a 2‑point switch, and your kids tried as hard as they did,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said following the match.

If everything goes according to plan this year, players, coaches and officials won’t have to worry about too many more missed calls.

This year, the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 are experimenting with instant replay in conference play before the NCAA decides whether to implement it across all Division I volleyball. It’s a move that’s sorely needed in volleyball. The athletes are fast, the action is quick and the chance that four sets of eyes miss something is pretty high.

And that’s really the point of instant replay — to get it right. Nobody likes losing on a blown call, and nobody likes winning on a blown call, for the most part. If last year’s play shows anything, it’s that volleyball needs instant replay.

Just look at baseball, now in its second year with instant replay. Although missed calls are practically part of baseball tradition, replay has helped reduce the number of missed calls while keeping the pace of the game similar to how it was before replay was implemented.

Some may argue against implementing this system across all of college volleyball. The camera and equipment demands are hefty. Smaller schools might not have the equipment necessary for effective instant replay.

But the NCAA does need to use video in officiating when it truly matters the most, when seasons are on the line in the NCAA tournament and the Final Four.

With all of the technology available today, it’s truly mind-boggling why there are sports that have not adopted instant replay. It’s time for college volleyball to step into the 21st century.