About Tournaments & Competition


You may also be interested in this FAQ: For Parents

Frequently Asked Questions

About Tournaments & Competition

How and when will I know where tournaments are located?

We can only publish approximately one week before each tournament.  The reason has to do with our very unique and successful reciprocal system.  This system allows every team in New England to play on every date.  This does not happen anywhere else in the country.  In addition, with the movement between levels at every date, we have limited time between tournaments to; collect and assemble the results from 100+/- facilities, rank every team in each age group, seed the next tournament date, have the information verified by Club Directors and then get it out to the general public.  Your Club Director should be the first point of contact for the schedule… We are unable to answer all of New England’s requests for locations (Over 5,000.00 members which does not include the number of parents who may be asking the questions…)

What is the “Reciprocal” System?

The Reciprocal System is unique to the New England Region.  For every multiple of 4 teams a registered club has they must supply one court on each NERVA tournament date.  Example: If a club as between 1 and 4 teams, they must make one court available to the NERVA Scheduler on all tournament dates.  A club that has between 5 and 8 teams must make two courts available.  Clubs with 9-12 teams; three courts, etc.  This allows the scheduler to schedule every single team in New England on every tournament date.

What are the various levels at each age group?

New England has two major levels of competition at each age group; Open and Club.  Open is the highest level of play in New England and consists of several sub-levels or tiers of play.  They are; Gold, Silver Bronze and Copper (etc.) depending on the size of the age group.  Some age groups do not have open play (currently the 12’s, 14’s and 15’s do not have an open level).  Club Level play is the heart of New England Volleyball and is the largest segment of our membership.  Levels in Club include AA, A, B and C.  

What is the difference between “Club” and “Open” level tournaments?

Open level tournaments are officiated by certified officials while Club tournaments are self officiated (Player referees with guidance from Coaches).  There is a fee for Open level teams to cover the cost of officials.  The top Open Level teams (depending on availability of facilities and resources) play for the Regional Championship title at the end of the season.  All teams in New England play in a championship at their respective levels of play.  

How far should my team expect to travel on regular NERVA dates?

All teams are eligible to travel ANYWHERE in New England no matter what level they play.  Because of the Reciprocal System, Some teams will will be the “Host Team” and therefore play locally.  Generally speaking, the scheduler makes efforts to keep teams within an hour of their base of operations but THIS IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE.  Please be prepared to travel on any given date.

Do teams advance according to their finish at tournaments (aka: “movement”)?

Yes.  In the open level the top two teams at each tournament (1st and 2nd place) will move up to the next level and the bottom two teams (7th and 8th place) will move down.  In Club the same is true however there are occasions when latteral movement is necessary when there are several of the same levels throughout New England (i.e. Several groups of C level tournaments).  This  ensures that teams are being tested against other teams of similar levels and provides for the best possible strength of competition.  The system is less rigid as the level of play increases in number and decreases in level (please see FAQ entry “Why did my team not move up or down…?”

Why did my team not move up or down from the last tournament?

In the largest segment of play; Club Level, there are multiple groups of the same sub-level (several A tournaments, several B Tournaments, Several C tournaments, etc.).  While Club is the bulk of the New England region it is also made up of many players and teams that choose to play as close to home as possible.  The scheduler will attempt to honor requests from Club Directors whenever practical and possible to keep teams close to home however, that occasionally necessitates lateral or no movement.  

Tell me about Age Groups – or – Why is there a 14’s team in a 16’s tournament?

USA Volleyball has strict age requirements.  In fact, players who do not meet the age cut off for a particular age group are not eligible within the Webpoint system to be added to the roster (Webpoint rosters are required at all tournaments for entry).  Clubs will designate the “age level” for a team and populate the roster with age eligible players.  Teams (or players) may not play down in age level however they may choose to play up (i.e. a 14’s team may choose to play in the 16’s age group but a 16’s team may not play at the 14’s level).  

Once  a team competes at a higher age group, they must remain at that age group (or higher) for the season also known as the “play up – stay up” rule.    In New England we currently have 12’s (age groups are often referred to as “U-12” or “12 and Under” or as written: “twelves”), 14’s, 15’s, 16’s, 17’s and 18’s.   Age groups exist to the extent there is demand.   In other parts of the country there are levels as young as U-8.

What time do tournaments start and how long do they take?

Tournaments typically have an “Enter Time” (the time you can enter the facility) and a “Start Time” or “First Serve” (the time the first match begins).  Remember that a coaches meeting and warm-ups take place before the first serve.  A typical tournament has an Enter Time of 8:30am with First Serve at 9:00am.  It is up to the host club and their facility to set the times.  Therefore enter times may be earlier or later based on the clubs arrangement with their facility.  Special permission from the region is needed to begin a tournament before 8:00am and after 10:00am.  This is rare but does occur.

The typical run time for a tournament is 7-8 hours from First Serve to Last Serve (clubs are obligated to provide a minimum of 7.5 hours).  Typically Last Serve will include the two teams in the championship or last match and a third team working the match.  Very typically, teams who are “done playing for the day” usually have a work assignment before they leave the facility.  All teams should check with and be released by the Tournament Director before leaving for the day.  

What is an “Enter” or “Entry” time?

The Enter time is a time designated by the host club at which players, parents and coaches may enter the building for a tournament.  It is very often the case that Host Clubs would prefer you do not enter the building prior to this time as they are busy preparing the facility for the tournament.  If you should arrive early it is best to find a coffee shop or breakfast place and wait until the Enter time.  The “Start Time” or “First Serve” is generally one half hour from the Enter time with a “coaches Meeting in between.

Can my team play with less than 6 players?

The question comes up every year; “What do we do if we have less than 6 players?“.  For starters, if you know you can’t make a tournament, you should always let the host club know directly by email or phone (especially if less than 24 hours notice).  The Club Directory is available here (About us >> “Find a Club”  above).  But don’t stay home yet! There is hope! Did you know that NERVA has specific rules regarding playing with less than 6 players?  

Here is the section specific to playing with less than Six:

3. Team Personnel 

At open level tournaments, teams may not “borrow” players or play with less than 6 players (No Ghost). At club level tournaments if a team is missing a player, the team should:

a. “Borrow” a player from another team within their own program at the tournament. Any player that is “borrowed” from the same program must play with the new team for the entire day. The player must be designated on the roster (borrowed player change should be handwritten on the Webpoint roster and included in the tournament notes when reporting results). The player may return to their original team only when the new team is finished playing for the day. If the new team does not make the playoffs, the “borrowed” player may return to her original team for playoffs.

b.   If there is no player available from option “a.” the team will choose one of the following options.

1. The work team of that particular match may provide the needed player(s). The coach of the work team shall select the player(s). If the work team does not have enough players to cover the work assignment, borrowed players may come from another team within the same pool.

2. Play with a “Ghost Player”. A team with only 5 players may play with a ghost player. The ghost player must appear on the lineup and must be maintained in the rotation. When it is the ghost player’s turn to serve, the first referee will award an immediate point and sideout to the receiving team.

  1. All sets played by a team with less than 6 players on their roster will be counted as forfeits and they will not be eligible for playoffs.
  2. Teams are not allowed to play with less than 5 players on the court. 

NERVA recommends attending the tournaments even if you have 5 players (though we really wish you’d get your whole team there!! :) .  The emphasis should be to promote as much play and experience as possible.  There is no substitute for competition.  For other questions; the entire NERVA Code book is online here (2012 NERVA Operating Code Final).  We hope this helps!