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What is Volleyball?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Volleyball is an Olympic and NCAA sport, as well as a game played by people on indoor courts and outdoors at playgrounds and beaches, and in backyards. Volleyball was invented in 1895, just four years after the invention of basketball. The inventor’s name was William G. Morgan. He called the game mintonette, and created it to include facets of basketball, baseball, handball, and tennis.

Today, the usual volleyball game can be summarized as follows. Two teams placed on opposite sides of a net and with six players on each side, use their hands and arms to strike a ball from one side of the court to the other over the net. Each team tries to make the volleyball touch the ground within the boundaries of the opposing team and tries to send it over the net and prevent it touching the ground within the boundaries of their side. Only three touches per side are allowed before the ball reaches the opposing team’s airspace.

The serving team continues to serve as long as it scores, which it does if the ball drops to the ground on the opposing side before it can be hit over the net. Scoring gains a single point. If the serving team fails to score by letting the ball fall to the ground within their boundaries, failing to hit it over the net in three tries, or hitting it over the net but out of bounds, the serve passes to the other team, and no point is scored by either team. Players rotate their positions clockwise when they receive service from the other team.

Volleyball has undergone many changes as it has developed. The net moved from 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) high to over 7 feet (2.13 m): 7 feet 11 5/8 inches (2.43 m) for men and 7 feet 4 1/8 inches (2.24 m) for women. Co-ed teams play with the men’s height. The special ball for the sport of volleyball was developed in 1900.

The set and the spike are credited to players in the Philippines in 1916. The following year, the scope of the game of volleyball was set with a reduction in total points for a win from 21 to 15. The rule limiting each side to three hits and the back row attack rules came into play in 1920. Volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964 in Tokyo.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for HomeQuestionsAnswered, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By anon14978 — On Jun 28, 2008

I've seen some libero did spiking in tournaments. Example in our secondary school's zonals and nationals. Is libero allow to spike?

By millhouse — On Mar 22, 2008

Sometimes you might see a volleyball player with a different color jersey than the rest of his or her team. That player is sometimes referred to as the libero. Liberos are back row specialists who typically sub in for front row specialists that aren't so skillful in the back row. They have a different color jersey to indicate that they are a back row player and that they can't attack or block balls that are above the height of the net.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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