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How Long is a Volleyball Game? (with the Longest Matches in the History)

How Long is a Volleyball Game?

Volleyball beginners can have a lot of questions about this sport. And it’s completely fine. One of the most common ones is how long is a volleyball game. Well, you can’t directly answer this question, because the match time depends on the number of sets.

Look at the table below to see how long is a volleyball match according to the number of sets.

Number of SetsAverage Match Time
31 hour 20 minutes
41 hour 45 minutes
52 hours 10 minutes

In this post, you will find out how many points there are in a set, break-out times and even the longest sets in the history of volleyball!

How many sets are in volleyball?

In volleyball, there is not such thing as a clock. A volleyball is quite different from, for example, basketball or soccer where we know exactly how long the game will take. A volleyball match is being played until one team reaches a certain number of sets. It looks similar to tennis.

In volleyball, there can be a maximum of 5 sets. But the game is over when a certain team wins 3 sets. So, for example, if the team called Lions won 3 sets and didn’t lose any, they are winning 3-0, and the game is over. The Lions also can lose a set or two with the team called Zebras, so they can win 3:1 or 3;2.

Some people say this many sets per match is too long. I think it’s enough and it makes volleyball attractive.

How many points is a set in volleyball?

Regular sets always have the same amount of points to win. If one team reaches 25 points, the set is over, and they won it. But there is one exception.

A winning team has to win by at least 2 points. It’s called an advantage. So, we will never have results like 25:24. If in a certain moment the score is 24:24, then the team who wins another point doesn’t win. They keep playing. They win when they have 2 points more than the opponents. The last action before ending a set is called set point.

These are exemplary scores of volleyball sets:

… and so on.

But there is one thing to remember. If we’re playing 5 sets, the last one is called “a tie-break”. Don’t be afraid of this name of the set, because it means only one thing. We’re not playing until reaching 25 points but until 15 points. All the rules are the same, but the number of points to win is lower.

It makes sense because, after about 2 hours of playing 4 sets, players are tired. As I said, a tie-break is being played until someone reaches 15 points, of course with the lead of 2 points. It’s nothing extraordinary if the tie-breaks end on 18:16 or 19:17.

Do you want to know more about libero position in volleyball? Go to this article.

How much time does one set and the whole match last?

There is not any official stats when it comes to the average set or match time. For an experienced volleyball fan who watched thousands of games, it’s quite easy to assess the average time.

When watching volleyball on TV, there is usually a set duration being displayed between sets. Let’s look at this example.

The first set last 25 minutes, the second 29 minutes.

Women’s volleyball looks similar.

Let’s take a look at couple of other examples.

It’s safe to say that one regular set in volleyball lasts from 24 to 30 minutes. So, on average it’s about 27 minutes per set. When it comes to the tie-break, it’s usually shorter and it lasts about 19 minutes.

Overall, the whole match with 5 sets usually lasts about 2 hours, 4 sets take approximately 1.5 hour,s and 3 sets a bit more than one hour. Of course, remember that these are the average times and sometimes, a match can be almost 3 hours long and sometimes less than one hour. In a moment I will show you the longest sets ever.

How much does time-out last?

Players don’t play all the time. There are a couple of time-outs during a set.

Every coach is allowed to take two time-outs per set for his team. Each time-out lasts exactly 30 seconds. If two coaches take their all time-outs, they last 2 minutes in total. They can benefit from those time-outs, but if their team wins, they usually don’t do it, because every break can distract a winning team.

There is also another type of break called by the referee. It’s called a technical time-out that takes place after reaching 8 and 16 points by the leading team. In the tie-break, there is no technical time-out.

This kind of time-out lets volunteers clean the court out of sweat and players can have a one-minute rest.

Can you kick the ball in volleyball? Learn that in this article.

How long does a break between sets last?

The longest break that players have is a break between sets.

It lasts 3 minutes and in this time players can cluster, talk to the coach, drink water and the ones who aren’t playing can warm up.

What else affect volleyball match time?

In volleyball, lots of unplanned things can happen. All of them combined prolong total match time.

For example, if a player gets injured. It happens every once in a while and helping him to get off the court takes at least about half a minute.

Substitutions also take a lot of time. One substitution takes about 10 seconds. One team might make up to 6 substitutions per set. If both coaches decide to make 12 substitutions per set, it takes about 2 minutes in total! That’s a lot of time.

Sometimes volleyball games are very thrilling. It makes players discuss with opponents and with the referee. Sometimes minor arguments might turn into a scramble. There are players who are intentionally doing it to distract opponents. They are usually punished with yellow or red cards.

Here you can see some examples of volleyball arguments.

A new thing in volleyball is called “a Challenge”. It lets both teams check out if the referee made the right decision by checking it on the cameras. It works like a VAR System in soccer. Teams can use the Challenge as much as they want if they are right. If they are wrong, they can make 2 mistakes. Challenge check takes about half a minute and teams take it at least 2 times per set which means it’s an additional 1 minute.

The longest volleyball sets and games in history

The exception proves the rule. In the past, there were hundreds of sets that lasted extremely long. Let’s take a look at the longest sets in the history of volleyball.

  1. Men Czechoslovak League (1979)- 87:85
  2. Men Korean League (2013) Korean Air Jumbos – Rush & Cash- 56:54 minutes
  3. Men Italian Seria A (2002) Bre Banca Cuneo – Sisley Treviso- 54:52 minutes
  4. Men Greek A1 (2007) AEK Athens – PAOK Thessaloniki- 52:54 minutes
  5. Men German League (2019) Alpen Volleys – Luneburg- 50:48 minutes

There were also marathons of volleyball games. The Guinness World Record for volleyball lasted 85 hours in the Netherlands in December 2011. The members of the SVU Volleybal were the ones who played the longest marathon. It involved a total of 63 matches which consisted of 338 sets as well as a total of 14,635 points total.

How much does beach volleyball match last?

Although a beach volleyball is similar to regular volleyball, the scoring system is slightly different.

Like FIVB says “For Beach Volleyball, matches are a best of three sets using the rally point system. The first two sets are played to 21 points, with the final tie‑breaker set being played to 15 points. A team must win a set by two points. There is no ceiling, so a set continues until one of the teams gains a two‑point advantage.

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