Updated: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 21:13:56 GMT | By pa.press.net

VOLLEYBALL

Volleyball was first conceived as a less strenuous alternative to basketball, but it has since evolved into a sport that is just as dynamic and high-tempo.


A volleyball player attempts a spike. (© Press Association)

A volleyball player attempts a spike.

Volleyball

Volleyball was first conceived as a less strenuous alternative to basketball, but it has since evolved into a sport that is just as dynamic and high-tempo.

Like its alternative, volleyball was invented in the United States at Springfield College in Massachusetts, before being spread across the world by the American armed forces and growing in popularity in Europe and Asia during the early parts of the 20th century.

It was even staged as a demonstration event at the Paris 1924 Olympics but was not given the go-ahead to join the medal schedule by the International Olympic Committee until 1957, eventually making its debut for both men and women at the 1964 Games in Tokyo.

Indoor volleyball is played by teams of six players over a maximum of five sets. Sets are won by a team reaching 25 points, apart from in the fifth set where the first to 15 is played. In each, the winning team must have a two-point advantage.

Much like other net-based sports, the aim of volleyball is to land the ball on the opponent's side of the court.

A team must return the ball over the net - which is 2.43 metres high for men and 2.24m for women - in no more than three touches, with most rallies following the pattern of a 'dig', a 'set' and a 'spike'.

At the Olympics, both the men's and women's competitions are divided into two pools of six, with four teams progressing from each group into a knockout stage.

This fast-paced sport requires athletes to show quick reactions, speed and power in equal measure to shine on the international stage.

Countries such as Japan and the former Soviet Union had dominated the sport at the Olympics until the 1980s, since when the likes of Brazil, Cuba and the USA have been the ones to watch out for - with the American men and Brazil's women winning the title at Beijing 2008.

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