The women’s college volleyball recruiting process can be confusing. And, given the disparity in size between the number of women’s and men’s college volleyball programs, that confusion can be magnified. So, to make sure the numbers add up while you’re figuring out where you might want to play in college, make sure you’re familiar with these women’s college volleyball numbers:
The number of female high school volleyball players in 2020.
The number of female volleyball players at all levels of collegiate competition.
337, 12, 17
In NCAA Division I, there are 337 women’s volleyball programs. As a headcount sport, each of those programs can award 12 full-ride scholarships. However, the average roster size for women’s volleyball teams in Division I is 17. And that means, each usually has five walk-on players who don’t have a scholarship.
293, 8, 17
In the NCAA’s Division II, there are 293 schools with women’s volleyball programs. Each of those teams is allotted a total of eight scholarships. As in DI, the average roster size is 17 players. However, in Division II, women’s volleyball is an equivalency sport, and coaches are allowed to offer partial scholarships to some or all of the 17 player roster, as long as the total of those partial scholarships doesn’t exceed the limit of eight. In its simplest form, a DII college coach can offer a partial scholarship covering 47% of their college costs to each member of a 17-player roster. Different DII coaches use different percentages and many will try to package partial athletic scholarships with academic scholarships to help cover more of an athlete’s expenses.
436, 17, 0
There are 436 women’s volleyball teams at NCAA Division III schools and those schools have an average roster size of 17 players. The catch is, NCAA DIII schools don’t offer athletic scholarships. However, most DIII schools do have plenty of academic scholarship money to offer. That means your good grades, combined with your volleyball prowess, could combine to help you play volleyball in college on an academic scholarship instead of an athletic scholarship.
224, 18, 8
NCAA volleyball isn’t your only option to play volleyball in college, as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) boasts 224 member schools with women’s volleyball programs. Though generally smaller colleges and universities, NAIA schools carry an average roster of 18 players and each team can offer a maximum of eight scholarships. As in NCAA DII, those scholarships can be awarded in partial amounts as long as the total doesn’t exceed eight. Given the smaller nature of NAIA schools, however, many athletic departments lack the funding to underwrite the full amount of scholarships for every team. As such, some NAIA teams may not be able to offer a full complement of eight scholarships.
346, 13, 14, 2
Beyond the NCAA and NAIA, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has 346 schools offering women’s volleyball teams. While the average junior college roster is only 13 players, each NJCAA school can offer a maximum of 14 scholarships. As in the NAIA, many JUCO athletic departments may lack the budget to fully fund every team, and not every junior college can offer a full 14 scholarships.
As the name implies, junior colleges are only two-year schools. That means, if you want to continue playing volleyball in college after your sophomore year in JUCO, you’ll have to find a spot at a four-year school. While that can be a deterrent to many athletes, playing for two years at a junior college can provide the opportunity to improve your grades (if needed) and show coaches that you have the skills to play at a higher level.
Whatever colleges you’re considering, make sure to also think beyond athletics and think about numbers such as tuition costs, classes sizes, local cost of living, and campus size. Then, when you add it all up, the only number that matters is that you find the one school that offers the best fit for you.
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