50 Interesting Facts About Volleyball

Volleyball like any other sport is meant to help players spend their time doing some physical activity which is also good for the mind. Volleyball is played across the world by people of varying ages and genders. It inculcates in us the value of team spirit and coordination. Let us learn 50 interesting facts about Volleyball, some interesting facts about its popular players and also read some common injuries and their solutions.

1. Volleyball was invented by William George Morgan, an American educator. Morgan was an acquaintance of basketball inventor James Naismith and the former was inspired by the new sport to invent his own. However, he wanted one that could be played indoors. Taking a badminton net and a soccer ball bladder, he created volleyball.

2. Volleyball had a dainty name: Mintonette. This is on account of the fact that it was similar to badminton (“minton” later turned to “mintonette). It was renamed “volleyball” by another educator, Alfred S. Halstead because the ball was volleyed back and forth. Halstead is credited for popularizing the sport.

3. Originally, volleyball was meant to be played indoors. It was also invented because Morgan wanted a game where players did not have to run. He wanted a game that was physical and required players to perform plenty of actions but does not require direct contact with opposing players.

players playing volleyball. Volleyball facts
Image via shutterstock/zieusin

4. The very first volleyball game was an exhibition played in 1896 at Massachusetts’ Springfield College, then known as the International YMCA Training.

5. Basketballs were once used to play the game but their weight prevented players from keeping the ball in flight. The first volleyballs, which were made from a basketball bladder, proved to be too light and slow.

6. The first “official” volleyball was commissioned by A.G. Spalding & Sons for William Morgan. The company designed a ball that had three layers – the innermost layer was made of latex bladder, the next layer was made of cheesecloth, and the outermost was made of leather.

7. There are size and weight requirements for volleyballs. The circumference should be between 25-27 inches while the weight must be from 9-12 ounces. The ball has 18 slightly rectangular panels divided into six sections, with each section consisting of three panels. It may be made of genuine or synthetic leather.

8. Standard indoor volleyballs are slightly smaller than beach volleyballs. They also tend to have a smoother surface and higher internal pressure.

9. There are six positions in the volleyball court. These are: the Setter, the Outside Hitter, the Opposite Hitter, the Middle Hitter, the Libero, and the Defensive Specialist. To truly excel in the game, each player must master their skills at their positions.

10. In a six-man team, there is one player who has a different-looking jersey. This is the libero – the player who can move freely on the court and off. He/She can replace a hitter who may not be effective on defense in the back row. The libero is not allowed to hit the ball in the front area of the 10-foot line. They may hit the ball behind this line provided they do not clear the top line of the net.

11. The offensive styles we now know as “set” and “spike” were first introduced in the Philippines. The ball was hit high by one player and another player hits the ball sharply to land on the opponent’s court. The hit is usually strong, which makes it difficult to defend. The spike or kill was called “bomba” and the spiker was referred to as a “bomberino”.

12. The 3-hit rule which states that players in one team can only hit the ball three times was introduced in 1920. This helped increase the momentum of the game and improve its action. Since the hits are limited, players must handle the ball in the best ways possible so they can score.

a man playing beach volleyball. Volleyball fact file
Image via shutterstock/Andrey Yurlov

13. Beach volleyball is believed to have begun, unsurprisingly enough, on a beach in Waikiki, Hawaii. Players from the Outrigger Canoe Club put up a net on the beach and began a game of volleyball. However, the two-man team started in 1930 at the Athletic Club in Santa Monica. When other players failed to show up for a game, Paul Johnson, a member of the club, decided to play with just four players – two for each team. This setup became so popular that it is still being used today.

14. The first time volleyball was played in the Olympics was in 1964. The spectators in Tokyo witnessed a three-way competition fiercely fought by the men’s teams from Japan, Czechoslovakia, and the former USSR. Japan won bronze, Czechoslovakia placed second, and the USSR went home with the gold. In the women’s division, Poland garnered bronze, the USSR won silver, and the home team of Japan won their first-ever Olympic gold in the sport.

15. The first time colored volleyballs were allowed in tournaments was in 1998. This was to make it easier for spectators to see and follow the ball while watching the game on TV.

16. The longest marathon volleyball match that made it the Guinness World Record occurred in January 2017. It was played by SVU Volleyball in Amstelveen, Netherlands, and lasted for 101 hours. It had 63 matches, 338 sets, and ended with a 14,635 score.

17. The very first beach volleyball professional tournament took place at the Will Rogers State Beach in 1976. It was named Olympia World Championship of Beach Volleyball.

18. A time limit for service is set at 8 seconds. This means that a player who will serve must do so within 8 seconds after the referee blows the whistle. If the server fails or is late, a point is given to the other team and the service turn is forfeited. If the server serves the ball prior to the whistle, he/she is allowed to serve again without penalties.

19. Volleyball games used to be played with a time limit of 8 minutes. Within this time, a team must have reached 15 points first or have a 20-point advantage.

20. To win in a competitive adult match, a team must emerge victorious in best-of-five sets. To win a set, a team must reach 25 points. If a fifth set is played, the target score is only 15 points. However, to win a set, the team should have a two-point advantage over the opposing team.

21. For a volleyball game to be played effectively indoors, the gym or facility must have a minimum vertical ceiling height of 23 feet.

22. In the past, only the serving team could earn a point if the opposing team fails to return the ball. This changed in 1999 when the Rally Scoring method was imposed. Under this new method, either team can earn a point regardless of which team served.

23. A one-handed block is called a “kong”. This is in reference to King Kong who swatted at planes with one hand as he balanced himself on the Empire State Building.

24. On October 2, 2008, the people of Taichung County in Taiwan gathered in Yung Shin Sports Park to set the record of the most number of people controlling volleyballs. There were 299 people who successfully attempted the feat. The participants had to control the ball for a minimum of 10 seconds.

25. The youngest volleyball player to win an international title in beach volleyball is China’s Xue Chen. Xue was 17 years old when she won at the China Shanghai Jinshan Open with partner Zhang Xi. The pair beat fellow Chinese players with a 23-21 and 21-14 score in just 38 minutes. The talented Xue stands at a towering 6 feet 3 inches.

26. On August 13, 2005, American Charles Frederick Kiraly, known as Karch, set the record as the oldest volleyball player to secure an AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) tour title. Kiraly, along with his partner Mike Lambert, won at Huntington Beach in California. He was 44 years old at the time. Kiraly holds the distinction of being the only volleyball player to win Olympic gold medals for playing both beach and indoor volleyball games.

27. Karch Kiraly also set another record as one-half of the oldest volleyball team to snatch a win at the Huntington Beach Open in 2003. His combined age with his teammate (Brent Doble) was 76 years and 117 days. The pair defeated Sean Scott and Todd Rogers.

28. There is only one women’s team to win three consecutive gold medals at the Olympics and it is Cuba‘s national team. They won the medals in 1992, in 1996, and in 2000.

29. In beach volleyball, there is only one team to win gold medals for three consecutive times. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings won in 2004, 2008, and 2012.

30. The country that holds the most number of national championships is Puerto Rico. The record is held by the same team – the Changos de Naranjito, which is a member of the country’s Men’s National League. The record runs between 1958 and 2004.

31. When the first beach volleyball game was broadcast live at the 1996 Olympics, more than 1 billion people watched. Twenty-four teams took part in the Olympic tournament. The games were won by Brazil (Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva) for the women’s division and by the U.S.A. (Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes) for the men’s division. The game was first introduced at the 1992 Summer Games but only as a demonstration event.

32. The tallest volleyball player in the world is Wuttichai Suksara of Thailand. He towers over even other very tall players at 7’3.5″ At 13, Suksara was already 6’6″ tall. He has gigantism and has received medical treatments for this condition. He had difficulty finding shoes his own size, prompting a Japanese company to make shoes especially for him. After graduating from college, Suksara later enlisted in the army.

33. The shortest male volleyball player is Farhad Zarif of Iran. He stands at 5’5″ tall. In 2006, Zarif became a member of the national team. He currently plays for Paykan Tehran. He was awarded Best Libero seven times from 2006 to 2013.

34. The minimum height for volleyball players is 5 feet. The game requires high jumps at certain points of the game for certain positions, so height is considered an advantage. Different volleyball associations may have varying height standards, however. In many cases, the shortest player takes on the role of the libero or defensive specialist.

35. The position with the tallest height requirement is the Middle Hitter/Blocker. It is the blocker’s job to stop all offensive attacks from the opposing team and they can perform this best at a position above the net. Tall players have this leverage.

36. The next position that will benefit best from having a tall player is the Setter. Tall setters can fake a move and then sneak a strong hit over the net to the opposing team’s side. Although the setter usually “sets” the ball for the hitter, having a height advantage definitely helps when it’s time to dig or block.

37. The fastest volleyball serve made clocked at 83.3 mph courtesy of Ivan Zaytsev of Italy in a Volleyball National League game against Serbia. This record was set in May 2018. Zaytsev also holds the Olympic speed record for serving at 78.9 mph, sharing the distinction with Gyorgy Grozer and Christian Savani.

38. Among female players, the fastest serve made by far was performed by Serbia‘s Tijana Boskovic. Her serve clocked in at 62.75 mph (101 kph). This occurred during the women’s tournament at the Rio 2016 Games. Boskovic’s performance bested Brankica Mihajlovic’s 61.5 mph (99 kph) serve. Boskovic was 19 when she became the very first volleyball player to break the 100 kph ceiling in Olympic history. Later in the day, the record was matched by Italy’s Paola Egonu.

39. The highest-paid professional volleyball player in the world is China’s Zhu Ting. She played for VakifBank Istanbul in Turkey for which she earned $1.68 million annually. She returned to China to rejoin the national team and prepare for the 2020 Olympics.

40. The first player to hit a salary of $1 million in professional volleyball is Randy Stoklos. He also earned MVP honors from AVP four times.

41. The FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) is the organization that governs all volleyball forms. They have chosen the top volleyball players of the century. For the male players, the honor goes to Karch Kiraly. For the female players, the title belongs to Regla Torres of Cuba. Torres has won three golds with Cuba’s national women’s team.

42. The richest volleyball (female) player in the world is American Gabrielle Reece. Reece began playing in high school and attended university using her volleyball sports scholarship. Her good looks also turned her into a cover girl and model, gracing magazine covers such as Shape, Women’s Sports and Fitness, and Playboy. She has also turned to hosting and acting. Her net worth is estimated at $10 million.

43. Among the male volleyball players, Wilfredo Leon is considered as the top earner. Leon started in the sport at a very young age, playing for his native Cuba’s team Capitalinos. At just 14, he began playing for the national team. He later defected and played for Zenit Kazan, a Russian Super League team. He led the team from one major win to another from 2015 until 2018. He now holds Polish citizenship. His estimated annual salary is $1.4 million.

44. The most successful coach in volleyball is Bernardo Rocha de Rezende of Brazil. Affectionately called Bernardinho, he has earned over 30 major volleyball titles in a colorful career spanning 20 years. He has coached both men’s and women’s Brazilian teams and has himself earned an Olympic silver as a player.

45. The lowest score ever recorded in volleyball is 25-1. It was in a match won by Chinese Taipei against the Maldives team in 2004 when they faced each other at the Asian Jr. Women’s Volleyball Championship.

46. The most number of aces served is seven, made by Australia’s Samuel Walker. This record was made when he played in Poland against Brazil.

47. The player who scored the most number of points in a match is China’s Jiang Chuan. In a match against France, Jiang scored 37.

48. Russia holds the title of being the country with the most World Volleyball Championships. They currently have 6 golds.

49. The country with the most number of inductees in the Volleyball Hall of Fame is the United States, with 62, followed by Brazil (15), and Russia (14).

50. Volleyball is ranked as the sixth most popular competitive sport in the world. However, according to the Olympic Program Commission, it is the most widely played. The sport has an estimated 900 million fans all over the world but it also has the most number of professional leagues.

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