Massachusetts is the home of volleyball as William G. Morgan created his new game in 1895 that he named Mintonette, which could played indoors by a number of players. With similarities shared between tennis and handball, Mintonette’s design as an indoor sport was in response to the creation of basketball with a less rough aspect to the gameplay while still providing some exertion on the athlete’s part. Morgan was responsible for the first rules written that dictated the placement of the net, the court’s size, and the number of players. With the gameplay set much like a baseball inning with nine innings within the game and three serves per team within an inning. Fouls happened if the ball hit the net unless it happened on the first attempt of a serve.
The name volleyball was given to the game upon an observer’s notice of the volleying of the ball within its first match in 1896. The International YMCA Training School, now known as Springfield College, hosted the first exhibition game and played key role in the modifications made to the game’s rules as well as aided in the game’s overall spreading across the country.
With the game, the ball used by the players has been disputed with some claiming the first one was created by Spalding in 1896 while others believe it wasn’t made until 1900. With the first official ball in play, the game’s rules began to evolve as the game spread across the world. The set and spike were introduced in 1916 with their power and skill seen in the games played in the Philippines. In 1920, the rule that the ball could only be hit three times maximum along with prohibiting the back row from hitting the ball became established. The first team to 15 points instead of 21 was changed in 1917.
Canada was the second country to adopt the sport in 1900 after the United States. Since then, the sport has become highly popularized in Brazil, in Europe, in Russia, and others like China and areas within Asia along with the United States, its original creator. The governing body was formed in 1947 with the international federation, known as the FIVB. Championships soon followed in 1949 for the men’s teams and in 1952 for women’s teams.
Other variations that have been created include beach volleyball in 1987 where four players meet on a sand court and compete against each other in teams of two. This variation was added to the Olympics in 1996 as a summer event. There is also the variation that’s played in the Paralympics as well as popular forms found within nudist and naturist clubs in the 1960s.
From its humble beginnings to its inclusion within the Olympics as a summer event, it didn’t take as long as some other sports with its demonstration being played out by American teams in 1924 at the Paris Olympics. Though its official inclusion didn’t take place until the Olympics in 1964, it can find its assistance into its inclusion through a special tournament in Bulgaria for the 53rd International Olympic Committee session.
With its inclusion, they began by playing the sport on a round-robin system where each team played all the other teams with the teams ranked by their wins and their averages in sets and points. This proved disadvantageous since many spectators could predict the winners quickly, which resulted in a loss of interest as the remaining matches had yet to be played. To counteract this in 1972, they transformed the competition into two phases with a final elimination round. These different phases consisted of quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. With a total of twelve teams on both the men’s and women’s events came from corresponding nations.
1964 and 1968 saw the USSR winning the gold in the men’s competition while Japan won the gold in the 1964 women’s competition. Japan won the gold in men’s in 1972. Poland won the men’s competition with the gold in 1976 as they utilized a new offensive maneuver, known as the backrow attack, as they competed against the USSR. The United States would boycott the 1980 Olympics due to the cold war they were in with the USSR. The USSR responds with its own boycott in 1984 as the Games were hosted in Los Angeles, allowing the United States to take the gold in the men’s event against Brazil. Italy finally brought home its first medal in 1984 in the men’s competition while the women’s event was taken by China.
The United States would again win the gold in the men’s competition in 1988 while the USSR won their fourth gold in the women’s event in the same year. With the following Summer Olympics, there were some upstarts from underrated teams that took home the gold for their countries like Brazil in 1992, the Netherlands in 1996, and the Republic of Yugoslavia against Russia in 2000. With each new Summer Olympic, the competition becomes fiercer for the right to the gold as Brazil competes against Italy, China against Russia, and Brazil against Russia.