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Volleyball was invented by William G. Morgan in 1895. As the physical education director of the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts he intended to create a recreational game that was less intense than basketball for the older members of his classes. He called his new sport “Mintonette” and demonstrated it in early 1896 a conference in Springfield. After seeing the demonstration, university professor Alfred T. Halstead called attention to the action of the ball’s flight over the net and proposed that the name be changed to “volleyball”.

From there the game was promoted by the YMCA in all of its societies throughout the United States and Canada. Introduced by American soldiers, the sport gained popularity in various areas of Asia (Philippines, Japan, Burma, China, India) as well as South America, Europe and Africa.

Canada v. Finland in Volleyball

Volleyball made its first, unofficial Olympic appearance at Paris 1924 where it was included in a demonstration of “American” sports. Following the first world championship in 1949, the IOC voted in 1961 to add volleyball to the Olympic program at Tokyo 1964. Volleyball has been on the Pan American Games program since 1955.

The court is 18m long and 9m wide, divided in half by a net that is 2.43m high for men and 2.24m high for women. A team scores a point when they land the ball in the opposing team’s side of the court. The team receiving the serve may touch the ball up to three times before hitting it back over the net to the other team. All matches are best-of-five sets. The first four sets go to 25 points, with a winning margin of two points, while a fifth and deciding set goes to 15 points, also with a winning margin of two points. Teams score a point by winning a rally, regardless of who served.


Men and Women

Each of the men’s and women’s tournaments features 12 teams divided into two pools of six with 12 players per team. Only six players per team are on the court at one time.

The competition takes place in two rounds, beginning with a preliminary round robin of the six teams within each pool. The top four teams in each group advance to the single elimination bracket, beginning with the quarterfinals. The winners of the quarterfinals play in the semifinals and the winners of the semifinals play in the gold medal match. The losers of the semifinals play in the bronze medal match.

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