Origins of volleyball
Volleyball is played by two teams, each of six players, separated by a net more than two metres high. Players rotate to each position on the court during a game. Each team scores points by hitting the ball over the net with the hands or arms so that it cannot be returned. The ball may be hit up to three times on one side of the net before it must be hit across the net.
An outdoor variant, beach volleyball, is played on sand with two players per team.
Volleyball was invented as an alternative to basketball by US physical education instructor William Morgan in 1895. Indoor volleyball has been an official Olympic sport since 1964, and beach volleyball since 1996.
Ctirad Benáček represented Czechoslovakia in volleyball before migrating to New Zealand in the early 1950s. Along with other recent immigrants he formed the Sparta club in Panmure, Auckland, in 1954. In 1968 Sparta, with a team comprising Dutch, Australian, Samoan, Russian, Czech and New Zealand players, won the first New Zealand Club Championships.
New Zealand volleyball teams competed in the first Oceania Championships in Sydney in 1973. Three years later the Oceania Championships were held in Nelson.
By 2012 New Zealand’s only Olympic representatives were brothers Reid and Glen Hamilton, who competed at beach volleyball in the 1996 Olympics. However, Hugh McCutcheon of Christchurch coached the US volleyball team which won gold at the 2008 Olympics, and its women’s team which won silver at the 2012 Olympics.
Volleyball New Zealand
The game’s governing body, Volleyball New Zealand, represents 14 regional associations with social and competitive players from primary school to masters level. In 2012 volleyball was one of the top five school sports in New Zealand, and an estimated 250,000 New Zealanders played the game annually.