The game of volleyball, originally called “mintonette,” was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan after the invention of basketball only four years before. Morgan, a graduate of the Springfield College of the YMCA, designed the game to be a combination of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball.
The first volleyball net, borrowed from tennis, was only 6’6″ high (though you need to remember that the average American was shorter in the nineteenth century).
The offensive style of setting and spiking was first demonstrated in the Philippines in 1916. Over the years that followed, it became clear that standard rules were needed for tournament play, and thus the USVBA (United States Volleyball Association) was formed in 1928.
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Two years later, the first two-man beach volleyball game was played, though the professional side of the sport did not emerge until much later. Not surprisingly, the first beach volleyball association appeared in California (1965), and the professional players united under the auspices of the AVP (American Volleyball Professionals) in 1983.
During the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, American men and women took gold and silver medals in indoor volleyball competitions. Four years later at the Olympics in Korea, the men once again scored gold. Starting in 1996, two-man beach volleyball was officially introduced to the Olympics. Today, there are more than 800 million volleyball players worldwide, 46 million of them in the U.S.
Timeline of Significant Volleyball Events
In 1900, a special ball was designed for the sport.
In 1916, in the Philippines, an offensive style of passing the ball in a high trajectory to be struck by another player (the set and spike) were introduced.
In 1917, the game was changed from 21 to 15 points.
In 1920, three hits per side and back row attack rules were instituted.
In 1922, the first YMCA national championships were held in Brooklyn, NY. Twenty-seven teams from 11 states were represented.
In 1928, it became clear that tournaments and rules were needed, so the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA, now USA Volleyball) was formed. The first U.S. Open was staged, as the field was open to non-YMCA squads.
In 1930, the first two-man beach game was played.
In 1934, national volleyball referees were approved and recognized.
In 1937, at the AAU convention in Boston, action was taken to recognize the U.S. Volleyball Association as the official national governing body in the U.S.
In 1947, the Federation Internationale De Volley-Ball (FIVB) was founded.
In 1948, the first two-man beach tournament was held.
In 1949, the initial World Championships were held in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
In 1964, volleyball was introduced to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In 1965, the California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) was formed.
In 1974, the World Championships in Mexico were telecast in Japan.
In 1975, the U.S. National Women’s team began a year-round training regime in Pasadena, Texas (moved to Colorado Springs in 1979, Coto de Caza and Fountain Valley, CA, in 1980, and San Diego, CA, in 1985).
In 1977, the U.S. National Men’s Team began a year-round training regime in Dayton, Ohio (moved to San Diego, CA, in 1981).
In 1983, the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) was formed.
In 1984, the U.S. won their first medals at the Olympics in Los Angeles. The men won the gold, and the women the silver.
In 1986, the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) was formed.
In 1988, the U.S. men repeated the gold in the Olympics in Korea.
In 1990, the World League was created.
In 1995, the sport of volleyball was 100 years old!
In 1996, two-person beach volleyball became an Olympic sport.