Volleyball Leagues and Competitions: A Guide

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Volleyball has not yet become a global sport but it still has millions of fans concentrated in different parts of the globe. This guide will show you which countries love volleyball and give you an in-depth look at their volleyball leagues and tournaments.

Some of the biggest international volleyball tournaments include the Olympics, European Champion-ship and World Championships. However, domestic volleyball leagues and tournaments also get a lot of attention especially leagues from major volleyball nations. We will also take a look at some of the top domestic volleyball leagues across the world and give you key strategies that will help you in making a bet. Some of the top competitions we will cover are the Club World Championships, European Champions League and Volleyball Ireland National League.

About Volleyball: Rules and Variants

The two main variants of volleyball that are played around the world are indoor volleyball and beach volley (or beach volleyball).

The two variants are similar in most ways as the objective remains the same: teams need to outscore each other by downing the ball in their opponent’s court and securing more points. Players are only allowed to touch the volleyball once.

The biggest difference between beach and indoor volleyball is the team composition and the location. Indoor volleyball, as the name implies, is played indoors on a hard court and teams comprise of six players. Beach volleyball is played on the beach and each team has just two players. Indoor volleyball courts have a bigger surface (18m x 9m) while beach volleyball courts are a tad smaller (16m x 8m). The point scoring system is another main difference between the two volleyball variants.
Each indoor volleyball game is played over 5 sets and a team needs to get to 25 points to win a set, while beach volley requires only three sets to be played and a team needs to get to 21 points to win a set. In both variants, a team will need a 2 point difference to clinch the set. If a final set is needed to decide the winner, then only 15 points are required. These are important facts to understand as it will help you create strong betting strategies.

Olympic Volleyball

When it comes to any sport, it does not get bigger than the Olympics. Given the fact that the Olympics takes place once in every four years, volleyball matches at the Olympics get a massive fan following from both hardcore supporters as well as those just learning about the sport. The Olympics has both indoor and beach volleyball matches and beach volley arguably has the bigger fan following.

volleyball olympics

Olympic Volleyball Format

The Olympics has events for men and women in both indoor volleyball and beach volley. A total of 12 teams compete in indoor volleyball while beach volley will see a total of 24 teams compete.

There are different ways to make the shortlist for the indoor volleyball event at the Olympics. The country that is hosting the Olympics automatically makes the shortlist. There is a special Intercontinen-tal Qualifiers event created for the Olympics and the top six teams automatically qualify. The remaining teams are shortlisted based on the top qualifier from each continent.

The qualification process for beach volley is not as straightforward as for indoor volleyball. The host nation, as usual,,makes the shortlist along with the winner from the last World Championships. The FIVB Beach Volleyball Olympic Ranking system is used to determine most of the teams who get to qua-lify. The top 15 teams make the shortlist while the remaining teams get selected based on the following criteria: 2 teams get selected from FIVB Olympic Qualification Tournament and the winning team from each continental cup also make the shortlist.

Indoor volleyball in the Olympics has two groups with each group having a total of 6 teams. Each team plays the other once during the preliminary rounds and in each group the top four teams make it to the playoffs. The top team in Group A plays the fourth ranked team in Group B, the second ranked team in Group A plays the third ranked team in Group B and so forth. During the preliminary stage, each team gets 3 points if they end up winning 3-1 or 3-0. They get 2 points if they win 3-2 and receive 1 point if they lose by 2-3.

Beach volleyball in the Olympics has six groups with each group having a total of 4 teams during the group stage. The top two teams from each group make it to the round of 16 and so do the two third place teams who have the most points. A “lucky loser playoffs” take place to determine the final 2 teams in the round of 16. The “lucky loser playoffs” are decided by the two remaining third place teams battle it out and the winner goes to the round of 16. Winning teams get 2 points, 1 point is as-signed for a loss and they will get 0 if the game is forfeited.

The winner of each game during the round of 16 moves to the next stage while the loser goes home. The final match will see the winner take Olympic gold while the loser will have to settle for a silver medal. The third place is determined by having the two losing teams from the semi-finals play each other to determine who gets the bronze medal.

Olympic Volleyball History

The Olympics started hosting indoor volleyball events from 1964 and since then both men’s and women’s events have taken place. Beach volley became an official sport in the Olympics only in 1996.

The United States, Brazil and the ex-Soviet Union have won three Olympic gold medals in indoor volleyball as of 2016. The former Soviet Union also dominated women’s indoor volleyball winning 4 gold medals but in recent years Cuba and China have caught up winning three gold medals each. Brazil has also done well in beach volleyball taking gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

When it comes to beach volleyball, the United States has dominated the competition winning three gold medals in both men’s and women’s divisions. So never count the U.S out of your volleyball betting strategy. The second most dominant team is Brazil who have reached five out of the six finals in the men’s division and four out of the last six finals in the women’s division.

FIVB Volleyball World Championship

The Volleyball World Championships is the second most popular international volleyball event and also takes place once in every 4 years. It is scheduled between Olympic events and it is an indoor volleyball tournament having both men’s and women divisions. However, both divisions don’t take place at the same time.

The men’s tournament in the 2018 edition took place from Sep 9 to 30 in Bulgaria and Italy while the women’s tournament was held in Japan from Sep 29 to Oct 20.

FIVB Volleyball World Championship Format

A total of 24 teams have been shortlisted for each edition since 1998 with the shortlisting process being determined in multiple ways. Automatic selection is given to the host nation, top ranked teams emerging from international volleyball tournaments and previous winners of the FIVB World Championship.

The format will see a total of four rounds being played. A round-robin format is adopted in the group stage which sees a total of four groups made up of 6 teams each. The top four teams from each group make it to the second round where they are combined once again in four different groups with each group having four teams.

The structure can be a bit hard to follow as the rankings are determined by adding points from the first and second rounds. The team with the most points in each group moves on to the third stage and so do the top two teams who finished in second place.
The third round will have two groups with each group having three teams. The third round will see teams from Group A play teams in Group B and the top two teams from Group A and B will move to the fourth and final round. The winner from Group A will play the second place team from Group B and vice-versa. The two winners will face off in the final while the two losing teams will battle it out for a third place finish.

FIVB Volleyball World Championship History

The World Volleyball Championship was first held in 1949 and only men competed. It also takes place every four years. Women started to complete in the tournament from 1952.
Throughout the history of this tournament, different teams have dominated during each decade. The former Soviet Union has turned out to be the most successful so far, winning 6 out of the first 10 tournaments till 1982. During this period they lost twice to Czechoslovakia and once to Poland and East Germany. The United States has only won one edition of the World Championship and that was back in 1986. Italy had a good run in the 1990s and won three championships in a row and then Brazil repeated the feat winning three championships in the 2000s. Poland will now push to repeat that feat after winning the tournament in 2014 and 2018. On both occasions, Poland ended up beating Brazil in the final.

The Soviet Union also dominated the women’s tournament winning the first three editions butt things are a lot more competitive now as the last six editions have been won by different countries. The countries that have won include the United States, Cuba, Italy, Russia on two occasions and Serbia in 2018.

European Volleyball Championships

International volleyball has a very busy schedule with the Olympics and World Championship taking place every other year. There are also a number of continental championships and one of the most popular is the European Volleyball Championships.

Similar to the World Championships, the schedule for men and women’s tournaments are different. They take place in different locations and on different dates but more often than not, the women’s tournament takes place soon after the men’s tournament is completed.

European Volleyball Championships Format

The European Volleyball Championships has an easy format when compared to the World Championships. The 2019 edition of the championships saw a total of 24 teams compete (earlier only 16 teams took part) which saw four groups of six teams each participate in a round robin structure. The top four teams from group advance to the playoffs where the losing team exits.

The point system is similar to the Olympics as the winning team gets 3 points for a 3-1 or 3-0 score; 2 points for a 3-2 victory and 1 point if they end up losing 2-3.

European Volleyball Championships History

The European Volleyball Championships first took place in 1948 which was a tournament for men only. A tournament for women was launched in 1949 and going forward the organisers have conducted a tournament for men and women in the same year. Initially the championships was scheduled to take place once in every 4 years but turned into a biannual affair since 1975.

Russia (taking into consideration the wins of the Soviet Union) have had great success winning 14 gold medals from 31 opportunities over the years. Italy has been the second most dominant country after winning 6 out of a possible 8 gold medals during 1989 to 2005. Since their 2005 victory, no other team has been successful in defending their title. The tournament has had different winners since then with France, Russia, Poland, Spain and Serbia all getting their hands on the title and becoming European Champions.

Russia (again taking into consideration the Soviet Union’s record) has also been dominant in the wom-en’s division, taking 19 out of a possible 31 gold medals. They started very impressively winning 10 out of the first 11 gold medals. Some of the other teams that have won two gold medals include Poland, Italy and Germany. Serbia has done well in recent years winning in 2011, 2017 and 2019.

CEV Champions League

The CEV Champions League is considered the number one premier league competition in Europe. Tournaments for both men and women take place simultaneously in a similar fashion to the Champions League.

volleyball champion league

CEV Champions League Format

The CEV Champions League sees 18 teams automatically make the shortlist every year. The top 10 teams from domestic leagues in Europe automatically get selected, with additional places given to league teams from Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Belgium and Turkey. There is also a qualifying tournament held where the top ten teams will battle it out and the top two teams make it into the league.

The group stage will see five groups of four teams start things off in a round-robin format. Each team will play the other team twice. One is a home game and the other is an away game. The group stage is determined by the number of games each team wins and if it turns out to be equal, then the set quotient will come into play to determine who advances. The set quotient is determined by dividing the total number of sets won against the total number of sets lost.

The winners of each group make it to the playoffs and so do the top three second place teams. The playoffs follow an elimination format and are played over two legs with the exception being the final. The point system will give the winning team 3 points if they win 3-0 or 3-1; 2 points if they secure a 3-2 win and 1 point if they lose by 2-3. Should the scores be tied after two legs, then the teams will play a Golden Set and the team that reaches 15 points first is determined as the winner. The final will take place at a neutral venue and only one game is played to determine the winner.

CEV Champions League History

The European Cup started out in 1959 for men and the women’s tournament launched in 1960. It takes place each year and was known as the European Cup till 2000. Once again, the former Soviet Union and Russia had had immense success in the tournament. CSKA Moscow have been dominant winning as many as 13 times but have faded away with their last win in 1991. Italy have also had good success as six different teams have won the last nine tournaments.

After 2000, the competition increased significantly, making it harder to determine which team will win. German, French, and Italian sides have won in recent years but Russia has also come on strong as Belogorie, Lokomotiv Novosibirsk and Zenit-Kazan have given Russia a seven year win streak – with Zenit-Kazan winning four consecutive titles.

The Soviet Union dominated the women’s division and shared a total of 22 championships across multiple clubs. Turkish and Italian sides have also had success in the last two decades as since 2004-2005, but only one non-Turkish and Italian team has won the tournament.

FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship

The FIVB Club World Championship takes place every year as 8 teams battle it out. The top teams from different continents take part to determine which team is the best team in the world. The tournament takes place over a week with the men playing first and a week later, the women’s tournament takes place.

volleyball world championship

FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship Format

The host nation automatically qualifies for the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship along with the champions from South America, Asia and Europe. The remaining four teams are determined by wild-card entries.

The group stages will see two groups made up of four teams each. Each team plays the other team once and the top two teams in each group make it to the semi-finals. The two winners face each other in the final while teams that lost the two semi-final face each other to determine the third place.

FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship History

The first FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship for men took place in 1989 and the women’s tournament started in 1991. The men’s tournament took a break from 1992 to 2009 and the women’s tournament also had a break, but from 1995 to 2010.

European sides have had great success in both men’s and women’s division. EU sides have won 11 out of the 14 tournaments in the men’s division and 9 out of 12 tournaments in the women’s division. South- American teams have gone on to win whenever EU teams have lost.

Volleyball National League (Ireland)

Ireland’s domestic volleyball league is known as the Volleyball Ireland National League and is overseen by the Volleyball Association of Ireland. The league covers tournaments for both men, women and Junior National teams.

Volleyball National League Format

The Volleyball Association of Ireland runs 13 competitions to foster the growth of volleyball throughout Ireland. You will find the Premier Men, Premier Women, U18 National League, U16 National League, Division 1 Men, Division 1 Women, Division 2 Women.
Volleyball is also encouraged at school level, so you will find competitions for Senior Boys A, Senior Boys B, U16 Boys A Championship, U16 Girls A Championship and U16 Girls B Championship.