skip to content
Volleyball


Volleyball was conceived as a less strenuous alternative to basketball. The sport became popular very quickly and made its Olympic debut in 1964.

A shared history

Basketball and volleyball were both invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts within a few years of one another. In 1895, William G. Morgan, after watching basketball develop, decided to invent a less strenuous sport for older people. He called this game "Mintonette". However, a local professor noted the ball being volleyed over the net, and the sport was almost immediately renamed.

Growth and development

The sport quickly became popular across the world. Japan was playing the game by 1896, followed closely by other Asian countries and the sport developed rapidly over the next 20 years. A specially designed ball came into play; six-a-side play became standard and the rules mandating three hits were instituted.

Olympic history

 No country has been truly dominant in volleyball, although the Soviet Union has won the most medals. The Japanese and the Soviet Union women’s teams dominated from 1964-1984 but since then the balance of power has shifted to Cuba, then to China and now to Brazil. The United States men’s teams were prominent in the 1980s, Italy in the 1990s and Brazil in the 2000s.

More


Gallery

Image Alt Text

Taouerghi digs for Tunisia

London 2012 - Tunisia’s “libero” Anouer Taouerghi digs a hard driven shot from Germany. The libero on a volleyball team is designated back-row only player, wears a unique uniform color, and is typically a defense specialist.
IOC/John Huet
Image Alt Text

Surprise attack

London 2012 - Ahmed Kadhi leaps head and shoulders above the net as Tunisia executes a surprise “quick set” shot to confuse German blockers.
IOC/John Huet
Image Alt Text

Hands high for Tunisia

London 2012 - Team Tunisia celebrate a point against Germany in preliminary round volleyball action.
IOC/John Huet
Image Alt Text

Shot denied

London 2012 - Germany cleanly block an attempted spike from a Tunisian outside hitter in men’s volleyball.
IOC/John Huet
Image Alt Text

Attacking the wall

London 2012 - German blockers create a formidable wall to defend the attack of Elyes Karamosly of Tunisia in preliminary round group B men’s volleyball.
IOC/John Huet
Image Alt Text

Joust at the net

London 2012 - A tightly set ball causes a joust between Gyorgy Grozer of Germany and Tunisian blockers Ahmed Kadhi and Elyes Karamosly.
IOC/John Huet
More

back to top Fr