How long does a volleyball game last? Can games go on forever? (ANSWERED)

There is no time limit in volleyball. The match is only done after a team wins 3 sets (women) or 5 sets (men). In theory, a volleyball game can go on forever if both teams keep scoring points. In reality, we see that people get tired and there will be one team that can score two points after each other. Therefore there will eventually be a winner of a volleyball game.

In general, there is no time limit but some tournaments use one to make sure that the games don’t last too long as they have to play a lot of games on the same day. Most volleyball matches last between 60 and 90 minutes. In some instances, a match can go on for more than 2 hours.

In volleyball, you score a point when the ball hits the floor on the court of the opposite team. If you score enough points, you win a set. A set is made up of uneven points so only one team can win a set. A volleyball game stops after 3 or 5 sets and there is always a winner.  This means that a team has to win more sets than the other team to win the game. A game can last a long time when both teams have won an equal amount of sets and they also have equal points in the final set. You have to win by two points at that point in time.

This is a very exceptional situation and almost never happens. Deuce, where both teams have the same amount of points at the end of the set and have to keep playing until one team has 2 points more to decide the set, does happen quite often and this can last quite some time. Eventually, one of the teams will get tired and the other team can score two points, winning the set or match. 

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It might sound weird that there is no time limit in volleyball but the fact that you are only allowed to pass 3 times per attack limits the amount of time that a team can hold the ball. This results in back back-and-forth plays during which one team will drop the ball. Players also get tired after a while and start to make more mistakes. This limits how long volleyball matches last.

What is deuce volleyball?

In volleyball, a match is played in three or five sets. To win a set, you need to have at least 25 points for women and 30 points for men. If both women’s teams have 24 points (women) or 29 points (men), it is called a deuce as you need to have 2 points more than the other team to win a set. This means that you have to keep playing to see who will win the set. At this point, you need to have at least two points more than the other team so that you can win the match.

This can take quite some time as teams are determined to win the set as this can mean that you will win the match. This can lead to spectacular situations where teams fight to keep the ball in the air. In general, deuces don’t last that long as one team eventually buckles under the pressure. They happen about once in every 100 games so they are not that common.

A lot of players have never experienced a deuce in their volleyball career as the matchups are often not that even. Often a few teams are dramatically better than the others in a competition. This means that you won’t see a lot of even sets and therefore deuce. Both teams need to score a lot of points before they can get a deuce so both in terms of offense and defense you have to be at a similar level.

Data indicates that the longest set was an 87:85 score where one team scored 87 points and the other 85 points before a winner of the set was finally decided. This is a very unique situation as getting over 40 points is already something that almost never happens. Eventually, one team will break and the other can win the set and break the deuce.

Teams often can stay on a similar score for a long period of time. However, in most instances, one of the teams goes on a winning streak (for example a series of aces).  This then breaks the other team and the other team can win the match quite easily after this.

Volleyball is all about momentum and once you are starting to lose after a tight set, it can be hard to come back. Some teams were able to make great comebacks. Russia, for example, was able to come back after losing 2 sets in a row during the Olympics final against Brazil. You need a strong team to be able to do this.

 Can a volleyball game end in a draw?

A draw is a situation where both teams win and they get an equal amount of points. You generally don’t have a draw in volleyball. It is possible to have a deuce for a long time during a volleyball game but at the end of the game, there is a winner. This is so because you need uneven points to win a set and the number of sets that are being played is also uneven. If both teams have won an equal amount of sets, you have a tie-break. This is a final set where fewer points are needed to win the game.

 This makes sure that one team will win. In some tournaments, they add a time limit to the game but generally, they will push to get a winner to avoid a draw as this leads to confusion. A draw can therefore happen in bracket play tournaments but generally not during regular competition. 

In a lot of sports, you can have a draw whereas other sports don’t allow this. In volleyball, they try to make sure that there is one winner by using uneven points and there is no time limit. There is a third of the fifth set if both teams have won an equal amount of sets already. These final sets are often very exciting to watch as both teams are pushing to win the game.

Even if the skill level of both teams is quite similar, a final set should decide who wins the game. Some players find it hard to deal with the pressure as this final point can make the difference between losing and winning. More experienced players are often used to this and are able to perform under this type of situation.

What is the duration of a volleyball game? How long is a volleyball game?

A volleyball game typically lasts between one and two hours, depending on how many sets need to be played. If only two sets are needed in a competition for ladies and one team is a lot stronger than the other, the match can be done in about 40 minutes. If five sets are needed for men and there are some deuces, the game can last more than 2 hours. 

The things that impact the duration of a game are:

-the skill level of both teams

-if both teams have similar skills or not

-the number of sets: three or five

The longest Olympic game for men lasted 241 points. Both teams won 2 sets and it all came down to the final set. This was a game in the nineties so it has been quite a long time ago already.

There are several things such as substitutions, injuries, or damage to the net that can prolong the game. These things are unpredictable and can happen at any moment during the game.

You also have timeouts that each team can ask to discuss their strategy. These don’t last that long (only 30 seconds) but can add up as every team has two timeouts per set. 

Some teams also try to slow down the game as they are tired. The referee will give a remark if you take too much time between actions but it can be a way to give your team some time to relax. Especially if you don’t have a lot of players on the bench it can be a great idea to slow down the game so that you have time to catch a breath.

How long does a middle school volleyball game last?

These games last often between 60 minutes and 90 minutes. The shortest volleyball set only lasted 10 minutes. Most sets last about 20 minutes. Male school volleyball players often also play 3 sets per game, similar to girls. In some instances, they play five sets, and then the match will last longer. There is also a break between sets.

This lasts about 3 minutes. We also have to take time-outs into account but these only last about 30 seconds each. Middle school games often don’t last more than 2 hours as the players are not that experienced yet and make a lot of mistakes. They drop the ball quite easily and therefore the score ticks up quite fast. There is a marked difference between how long pros play and middle school students.

To conclude, we can state that a volleyball game won’t go on forever as there are just limits to how long people can play. If it is a deuce during the final set, sooner or later one team will score two points in a row. This is already an exceptional situation and there will be one team that gets lucky or is able to break the defense of the other team two times in a row. In some tournaments, there is a time limit to the game to make sure that one match won’t delay the whole tournament.

In other competitions, there is no time limit and players keep playing until the 3 or 5 sets have been finished. This can take quite some time but often volleyball matches last about one hour to two hours. Volleyball is quite intense to play so after this point players get tired and start making mistakes. This makes sure that matches don’t last too long and that one team can win the game.  


International Volleyball Federation