First, a recap:
The team passes the ball badly, and it hits the tape (top of the net) outside of the antennae. It doesn’t touch the antennae, but it clearly hits the tape well outside the boundary of the court.
A player is in position and manages to play the second touch off the top of the net and back into the court. The third ball is sent over the net between the antennae and results in a point for that team. In fact this was the deciding point in a very close match, which meant the ball’s contacting the net outside the legal boundary got disputed by the other team.
The referee, however, ruled that it was okay for the ball to contact the net outside the boundary of the antennae just not the antennae itself. The point was upheld, the match was over.
The official ruling:
According the FIVB 2009 rule book, it sounds like this particular referee made the wrong call.
Rule 8.4.3: The ball is out when…it touches the antennae, ropes, posts or the net itself outside the side bands
My interpretation of this is that the ball was out of play, and therefore dead, as soon as it touched the net outside the antennae and the team should not have been allowed to play out that point.
If there are any referees out there who want to weigh in on this issue drop us a line in the comments, but it seems to me that my friend’s team got hosed on this call.