What Is an Ace in Volleyball?

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There are several ways to score points in volleyball, and one of the most exciting ways to do so is by getting an ace. However, scoring aces against your opponents takes practice and skill. If you’re new to the game, you might be wondering what is an ace in volleyball, and how can you execute this?

What Is an Ace in Volleyball?

An ace in volleyball is when a server hits the ball so well that the receiving team is unable to keep the ball in play, resulting in an immediate point for the serving team. There are four different types of aces, as well as a variety of techniques servers can use to achieve this easy point.

An image of a player doing a good serve

Types of Aces

Type of AceExplanation
Service AceWhen the serve lands directly on the opponent’s court without being touched by the opponent
Net AceWhen the serve touches the net and lands directly on the opponent’s without being touched by the opponent
Infraction AceWhen the serving team commits an illegal movement, losing the right to serve and giving a point to the opponent.

It’s up to the server to score an ace for their team. There are four ways that a server can get an ace. Ultimately, the key to an ace is that once the ball crosses to the receiving team’s side it never crosses back over again. Here are the four ways:

  • The ball hits the ground before anyone gets to it
  • The ball rolls down the net and the opposing team doesn’t recover it
  • Opponents receive the ball, but shank it directly into the net losing the point
  • Receiver violations, including the other team being out of position, or if the team is outside court lines
Know the different types of aces in volleyball

How Can Servers Get an Ace?

The ultimate secret to getting an ace is to target the ball. When the server can direct the ball where they want to go, they expose the other team’s weaknesses or play up their team’s advantages. The following list highlights the main things servers target in order to get an ace.

Aim for Weak Players

One way to get an ace is to aim at players that are not good at receiving the ball. Oftentimes this is the middle blocker position that has rotated to the back. By forcing the other team to rely on their worst receiving player, a server can more likely guarantee an ace.

Avoid the Libero

If the middle blocker is the best player to target, the libero is the worst player to serve to. Liberos are a special position that only play in the back row and specializes in returning the ball. Servers wishing to achieve an ace should do their best to avoid the libero at all costs.

A player serving in volleyball

Serve HLD

While targeting the right area of the court, most players try to serve the ball hard, low, and deep, or HLD for short. This technique works because HLDs are the hardest type of ball to return. If the receivers have to back up in order to correctly return the serve, there is a good chance they won’t have time and will lose the point.

Attack the Setter

When a player serves directly to the setter, they throw off the other team’s routine. The setter always tries to hit the second ball to set up hitters, which they cannot do if they hit the first ball instead. Teams will have to try to improvise another setter for the second hit on the play.

Top Spin Serve

The last and possibly the most difficult technique that servers often use to win an ace is the top spin serve. Topspin is when a ball rotates forward while moving, causing the ball to drop from the air quickly. In order for servers to make this shot, they must hit the top part of the volleyball with an extremely powerful downward serve.

How Many Points Is an Ace Worth?

An ace is worth one point during a volleyball game. It is worth the same number of points as any other point. The advantage of an ace is that the server’s team doesn’t have to expend any additional energy winning the point.

How Common Are Aces?

Aces are a difficult thing to achieve. It takes a lot of concentration from the server and therefore isn’t very common. According to the NCAA, the team with the most aces this season is Howard University, averaging 2.34 aces per set.

An image of a player showing what an ace in volleyball is

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about aces in volleyball

How Important Is the Ability to Serve Aces in Volleyball?

It is very important to learn how to serve aces. After all, if the opponent’s defenders lack receiving skills, this can give any team a significant advantage. Even if the defenders are good, this puts a lot of pressure on them, which can make them more tired.

Who Holds the Record for the Most Aces in a Volleyball Match?

The professional player Woo Ju-won once scored 17 aces in one single match. However, since these metrics are not tracked globally, there are no official records that establish this accomplishment.

Can an Ace Be Blocked In Volleyball?

No, an Ace cannot be blocked in volleyball. This is because serves cannot be blocked nor interfered. If a player were to contact a serve before it lands, the play would be considered illegal and the opponents would get a point.

The only way to defend yourself against a serve is to receive the ball. You cannot spike the serve back, block it, or change its direction mid-air. Therefore, the only way to stop an Ace is a great reception.


An ace is achieved when the server hits a ball so that no one on the receiving team can successfully return it. There are a variety of ways that a server may target the ball in order to play to their strengths or expose the other team’s weaknesses including aiming for weak players, avoiding libero, serving HLD, attacking the setter, and doing a topspin serve.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.