Watching US collegiate volleyball abroad

There is an ESPN online properly available to those outside the US called ESPN Player which features streaming live and on-demand sporting events. One of the parts of that service is the College Pass. This is where they have a collection of collegiate sports, one of which is volleyball.

I don’t know the specific geographic availability or pricing for the service (perhaps those who know can comment below), but in the UK it is £8.99 for a 24-hour pass, £17.99 if you go monthly, and $99.99 for a yearly subscription. I’ll get to what I think is the best way to go in a minute.

As I noted recently, watching more volleyball can help your development as a volleyball coach. Having players watch matches can also help them become better players. I have recently done this with the Exeter University men and women by bringing them together to watch an excellent match between USC and UCLA (at this writing it is still in the archives dated September 25). I spent time with both teams back in August, which helped me do my own additional commentary on the match. 🙂

I also suggested the ESPN Player service to an English juniors player I coach and her father for two reason. One was developmental so she could see what real quality high level volleyball looks like. The other was so she could watch matches between teams of different levels from all over the US as part of her research into where she might want to go if she targets a collegiate volleyball career there.

One thing to note, though, before you watch any of the matches. The rules for the US women’s game vary noticeably from FIVB in a couple of ways. The first is that the libero is permitted to serve in one rotation. Since in most cases she is going in on the MBs, that means she will serve for one of them, but the other will do her own serving. The second is there are 15 subs allowed per set. This allows teams to run a 6-2 offense in which the back row Setters and RS hitters are rotated in and out. It alternatively allows teams to liberally use defensive specialists along with the libero. I’ll leave the discussion as to whether this variation is a good thing or not for another time.

Getting back to the best subscription option, if you only want to watch a single match or spend a day watching several of them then clearly the 1-day pass makes the most sense. If, however, you’d like to watch matches regularly (as I do) then I’d suggest the monthly pass. I say this because the women’s season generally goes from early September until mid-December. This is when the most matches will be available by far. The men’s season runs about February to mid-May, but aside from the semifinals and finals at the end I’m not sure how many matches will even be put up on the service. As a result, you’ll only have a handful of volleyball watching months. Unless you’re also a basketball fan, the yearly pass probably is more than you need.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman

John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women’s team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women’s professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women’s Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.