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Updated:2008-06-03 17:44 |

Sydney, Entertainment Centre, Darling Harbour, 28 September 2000, Games of the XXVII Olympiad: Regla TORRES of Cuba (n°10) battling with Janina CONCEICAO of Brazil (n°3) during the volleyball semifinal. Cuba went on to win the gold medal. Credit: Getty Images/Darren McNamara

Prior to Sydney 2000, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) introduced a new specialist role: the libero. This player wears a different coloured uniform from the rest of the team and can be substituted in backcourt for any player on the team. The libero cannot serve, spike the ball over the net or rotate into the front-line positions, but plays a vital role for the team in serve reception and backcourt defence. There must be at least one point played between a libero substituting off for a player and going back on the court for another player - hence he/she cannot be on the court for the whole game. The libero added an extra dimension to backcourt defence during the Sydney 2000 Games, improving the reception of teams, lengthening the rallies and giving a vital role to shorter players.

Discipline's origin

In 1892, at a YMCA in the US state of Massachusetts, Dr Naismith hung up the peach baskets that gave birth to the game of basketball. William Morgan, his friend, studied the game and deemed it perhaps too strenuous for a middle-aged businessman. Thus, three years later, Morgan invented his own game. Another century later, his invention, volleyball, has emerged along with basketball as one of the fastest, most powerful sports of the Olympic Games.

Morgan called his game "Mintonette". However, a local professor quickly noted the ball being volleyed over the net, and the sport almost immediately changed names.

From the outset, volleyball has been a game unafraid of change from any direction. And it quickly went in many directions. Thanks to the long tentacles of the international YMCA network, Japan was playing the game by 1896, followed closely by other Asian countries. A specially designed ball came into play in 1900, and, over the next 20 years, the game developed to closely resemble the game of volleyball as we know it today.

The set and spike originated in the Philippines in 1920. Six-a-side play became standard in 1918. In 1920, the rules mandating three hits per side and back-row attacks were instituted.

(Credit: IOC. Click here for further information.)

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics