The Freeze. It’s been a topic of discussion among the volleyball community since 2016. Some fans hate it. Some fans love it. Some athletes have victories because of it. Some athletes have fallen victim to its icy grip. Most AVP athletes’ feelings towards this newer rule depend on when you ask them and their latest experience with what side of the Freeze they landed on.
Whether you’re a veteran fan, a fan who joined within the last 5 years, or a fan who joined within the last few days, the idea of the Freeze is exciting but can be confusing. So, let’s start from square 1: The Freeze is a rule that comes into play only on match point, and lasts through the remainder of match point until someone wins the set or match.
Now, let’s talk about when this rule came about and why it came about. This rule was introduced as a trial on the AVP at the end of the 2016 season, with only one tournament left (The Championships in Chicago). It was strategically introduced at this time because it was immediately following the 2016 Olympic Games and AVP didn’t want to alter the game before the biggest event in the world (where the Freeze was not in effect). Based on feedback from the staff, referees, broadcast partners, athletes and data captured throughout the tournament, the AVP staff officially declared the Freeze a rule starting in the 2017 season.
Why was this rule introduced? The AVP is always looking to put forward the best possible product—the most entertaining experience for fans while showcasing the best athletes in the world. These elements lead to a very engaged audience, which excites sponsors, broadcast partners, and brand partners. The dramatic moments, Cinderella stories, and the forgettable moments are a huge part of why fans love sports. Let’s put it this way… it’s only exciting for the two people on the beach court when you win a Gold medal off of a missed serve. Again, besides the two people on the court, it’s anticlimactic to win the Manhattan Beach Open on a missed swing after a long three-setter that had the crowd on their feet. The Freeze rule was introduced to combat those situations and end matches on great volleyball.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty about what this rule is.
1) When one team earns match point, both teams have entered The Freeze.
2) The Freeze means the game turns from rally scoring (there is a point given on every play) to sideout scoring (there is only a point given if the team serving plays out and earns a point).
3) The Let serve also comes into play during the Freeze. Meaning if your serve hits the net & lands in the court on the opposite side, the ball is dead and the server serves again. If the serve hits the net and lands out of bounds, no points are awarded (we are in sideout scoring) and the other team gets to serve. The serving team only has one opportunity to re-serve after hitting the net. If it happens twice in a row, no points are given and the other team gets the ball to serve.
4) When you are in the Freeze, teams switch sides every 5 points instead of every 7 points (like when they are in rally scoring).
5) Both teams play in sideout scoring until someone wins the set/match, where they must still win by two points.
6) If a third set is forced after playing in the Freeze, the third set goes back to rally scoring and both teams enter the Freeze once another match point is reached.
We know it may seem difficult to follow, and we saw it was a slow adaptation from fans and athlete alike, but the Freeze is here to stay and no one can deny it adds killer excitement to the game we all love. Don’t believe us? Just go ahead and re-watch the Men’s Final of the 2019 Hawaii Open. Talk about ending on a high!
Note: Sorry John Hyden and Theo Brunner.