In 2016, the sport of Volleyball is over 120 years old!
The sport originated in the United States, and is now just achieving the type of popularity in the U.S. that it has received on a global basis, where it ranks behind only soccer among participation sports.
Today there are more than 46 million Americans who play volleyball. There are 800 million players worldwide who play volleyball at least once a week.
In 1895, William G. Morgan, an instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Holyoke, Mass., decided to blend elements of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball to create a game for his classes of businessmen which would demand less physical contact than basketball. He created the game of Volleyball (at that time called, Mintonette). Morgan borrowed the net from tennis, and raised it 6 feet 6 inches above the floor, just above the average man’s head.
During a demonstration game, someone remarked to Morgan that the players seemed to be volleying the ball back and forth over the net, and perhaps “volleyball” would be a more descriptive name for the sport. On July 7, 1896 at Springfield College the first game of “volleyball” was played.
- 1895: William G. Morgan (1870-1942) created the game of volleyball but called the game Mintonette.
- 1896: The first exhibition match of volleyball is played at Springfield College (called International YMCA Training school in 1896).
- 1900: A special ball was designed for the sport.
- 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.
- 1917: The game was changed from 21 to 15 points.
- 1920s: There are unconfirmed whispers of men’s teams playing on the beach in Hawaii, but most accounts place the sport’s origin in Santa Monica, California where the first Volleyball courts are put up on the beach at the Playground. Families play 6 vs. 6.
- 1920: Three hits per side and back row attack rules were instituted.
- 1922: The first YMCA national championships were held in Brooklyn, NY. 27 teams from 11 states were represented.
- 1928: It became clear that tournaments and rules were needed, 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.
- 1930s: The first two-man beach volleyball game is played in Santa Monica, California.
- 1934: The approval and recognition of national volleyball referees.
- 1937: At the AAU convention in Boston, action was taken to recognize the U.S. Volleyball Association as the official National Governing Body (NGB) in the U.S.
- 1947: The Federation Internationale De Volley-Ball (FIVB) was founded.
- 1948: The first two-man beach tournament was held.
- 1949: The initial World Championships were held in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
- 1964: Volleyball was introduced to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
- 1965: The California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) was formed.
- 1974: The World Championships in Mexico were telecast in Japan.
- 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).
- 1976: First professional beach volleyball tournament was called the Olympia World Championship of Beach Volleyball. It took place at Will Rogers State Beach during late summer in 1976.
- 1977: The U.S. National Men’s team began a year-round training regime in Dayton, Ohio (moved to San Diego, CA in 1981).
- 1983: The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) was formed.
- 1984: The U.S. won their first medals at the Olympics in Los Angeles. The Men won the Gold, and the Women the Silver.
- 1986: The Women’s Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) was formed.
- 1988: The U.S. Men repeated the Gold in the Olympics in Korea.
- 1989: The FIVB Sports Aid Program was created.
- 1990: The World League was created.
- 1992: The U.S. Women’s Volleyball team wins Bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
- 1995: The sport of Volleyball was 100 years old! This Web site – Volleyball.Com goes live!
- 1996: 2-person Beach Volleyball debuted as an Olympic sport.
- 1997: Dain Blanton (with Canyon Ceman) becomes the first African-American professional beach volleyball player to win a tournament on the Miller Lite/AVP Tour.
- 1998: For the first time in the FIVB World Tour, men and women players are rewarded at the same level with $170,000 in total prize money per Open event.
- 1999: For the first time beach volleyball was included in the Pan American Games which were held in Canada.
- 2000: Olympic Beach Volleyball Men’s Gold medallists: Eric Fomoimoana & Dain Blanton (USA). The women’s Beach Volleyball America (BVA) announces their inaugural season of play.
- 2001: Christopher “Sinjin” Smith plays the final match of his impressive career, a 21-19 and 24-22 loss with George Roumain to Dax Holdren and Todd Rogers in the 4th round of the contender’s bracket at the AVP Manhattan Beach Open. Sinjin retires as the leader in tournaments played with 416, 2nd in all-time victories with 139, and 4th in all-time winnings with over US$1.6 million earned.
- 2002: Beach volleyball court dimensions reduced to 8m x 8m per side.
- 2003: Karch Kiraly becomes the first player to earn US$3M in prize money and oldest player to win an AVP tournament at age 42 years, 9 months and 14 days. (You’re never too old for volleyball!)
- 2004: U.S. Women’s team Kerri Walsh and Misty May Win the Gold medal in the Women’s Olympic Beach Volleyball Title in Athens, Greece.
- 2005: Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor win their second Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Open women’s title and the 2005 overall women’s championship.
- 2006: Elaine Youngs’ second place finish (with Rachel Wacholder) in Seaside Heights pushes her career earnings past $1 million. She becomes the third American woman to achieve that mark.
- 2006: In Seaside Heights, both Casey Jennings (with Matt Fuerbringer) and Kerri Walsh (with Misty May-Treanor) won titles, becoming just the second husband-wife duo to win pro beach events on the same weekend. They join Mike and Patty Dodd, who accomplished the feat four times in 1989, but each time in different locations.
- 2006: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor win in Chicago as Walsh joins the millionaire club. She is the 18th person worldwide to win over $1 million in her career, and did so in fewer events (90th tournament) as well as being one of just four to reach the mark before turning 28 years old.
- 2007: Misty May-Treanor passes Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede as the most winning player since the women’s competition on the international beach volleyball circuit began in 1992.
- 2007: Misty May-Treanor becomes the women’s all-time wins leader by capturing her 73rd victory, surpassing Holly McPeak’s record by winning with Kerri Walsh in Hermosa Beach. She reached this total in just 123 tournaments — winning 57.5% of her events.
- 2007: In a championship match that lasted 1:41, Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs defeat Jennifer Boss and April Ross 21-19, 18-21, 16-14 in Seaside Heights. The marathon set the record for the longest match in rally scoring, men or women, in domestic or international play.
- 2007: Karch Kiraly retires to close an impressive career on the beach, leaving as the all-time wins leader and money earner. His longevity was marked by the fact he won a tournament in 24 different years, and he advanced to the semifinals in over 75% of all the events he ever played and was named as the AVP’s MVP a record-most six times.
- 2008: Hot Winter Nights, a series of 19 events in January and February, kicks off in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma marking the first ever indoor beach volleyball tour. Mark Williams and Nancy Mason are the first winners in the “King of the Beach format” events.
- 2008: The U.S. Women’s Volleyball team wins Silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
- 2008: U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball team Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh take the Gold medal in Volleyball at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. China placed in both Silver and Bronze categories. U.S. Beach Volleyball’s Men’s team Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rodgers also took the Gold in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Brazil men’s teams placed in both Bronze and Silver categories.
- 2012: The U.S. Women’s Volleyball team wins Silver at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
- 2012: U.S. Women’s team Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings return to the Summer games in London to successfully defend their Gold medal wins of 2008 and 2004 and become the only Women’s team in the sport’s history to ever win three consecutive Olympic Gold medals. Jennifer Kessey and April Ross of the United States win the Silver medal the same year.
- 2016: The U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team qualifies to play at the Summer Olympics in Rio.
- 2016: Today, people all over the world play volleyball. Research shows volleyball is one of the top 3 most popular sports for women to play in high school. However, people of all ages find enjoyment in recreational volleyball, as its’ popularity continues to grow.