24 Volleyball Facts You Didn't Know

Ladies playing volleyball

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All sports have their own idiosyncrasies. Baseball, for example, is the only sport where the defense not only has the ball but also has more players on the field than the offense. Tennis and badminton are the only sports that expand the size of the court when more players are added. Of course, volleyball has its own set of unique attributes as well.

Originally called "mintonette" it has its roots in a centuries-old Southern European game called " faustball" (fistball), which is primarily played outdoors on a field half the size of a soccer pitch and players can not cross the mid-court line. Volleyball was invented in 1895 as a safe recreational sport for adults and now has blossomed into the world’s fifth most popular sport with over 1 billion players.

What are some of the other unique attributes of the sport? You might be surprised to know that: 

Historical Facts About Volleyball

  • In 1928 USA Volleyball was founded when the first national championship was staged.
  • The first recorded two-person beach volleyball game was played in 1930 in Santa Monica, CA.
  • Volleyball was first a demonstration sport in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris, yet it wasn’t until the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo when the first medals were awarded.
  • The FIVB was founded in 1947 to monitor men's play and in 1952 added women's rules and guidelines.
  • Volleyball was originally called Volley Ball until 1952 when it became a compound word.
  • The Association of Volleyball Players (AVP) was founded in 1983.
  • The first Beach Volleyball medals were awarded in 1996 in Atlanta.
  • The Volleyball Hall of Fame was founded in 1971 and is located in Holyoke MA. It has over 100 honorees including players, coaches, officials, and contributors.

Volleyball Court Dimensions 

  • The court’s dimensions are 60’ X 30’ – the same for both men and women.
  • Each half is divided into a 30’ X 30’ square making it the smallest playing surface, which holds the most players.
  • The height of the net for men is 7’ 11.625” while the women’s net height is 7’ 4.25”.
  • A volleyball net is one meter high.
  • The net standards are placed 3’ outside of the playing court.
  • The minimum ceiling height of an indoor volleyball facility is 23’ – preferably higher.

Miscellaneous Facts About Volleyball

  • The first volleyballs were the bladders of basketballs until Spalding Company invented a separate volleyball in 1898.​
  • During a match, players are known to vertically leap over 300 times.
  • The fastest serve was clocked at 132 kilometers an hour – 81.84 miles an hour.
  • American Karch Kiraly is the only person to win a Gold Medal Indoors (1984 & 1988) and as a Sand Player (1992).
  • Only the Cuba Women have won three consecutive indoors Gold Medals (1992, 1996, 2000).
  • On the sand, only Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor have won three consecutive Gold Medals as teammates. (2004, 2008. 2012).
  • In 1999, Rally Scoring became the method of tracking a score as opposed to the original format of only the serving team could score.

Interesting Tidbits About Volleyball

  • The set and spike concept first originated in the Philippines in 1916. The Filipinos referred to the kill/spike as a ‘bomba” and the hitter/spiker as a “bomberino”.
  • Volleyball was originally called Mintonette, because of its similarity to Badminton. It also has some elements of tennis and handball and even baseball because in the original set of rules there were 9 innings with three outs (serves).
  • Colorful terminology is no stranger to volleyball as evident by such terms as a pancake – when the palm is flat on the floor and the ball pops up and play continues; a kong – when a player gets a one-handed block: goofy - when a player jumps with wrong foot first (while attacking); and joust - when the ball is falling directly on top of the net, two opposing players jump and push against the ball, trying to force it on their opponent’s side.