Ok, you caught us. Well, most of you did. This was our 2018 April Fools joke – we’ve left it up so we can all reminisce for the next year about how we almost believed it was true for a second, but it is not true.
The FIVB, the world governing body for volleyball, and the NCAA have both voted to raise the met for men’s volleyball by 8 inches, bringing the net height to 8 ft, 7 11⁄16 inches (2.63 meters). The women’s net will remain at 7ft 4 3⁄16.
The move comes in response to a fan survey done by the FIVB that said that fans believe that the men’s game has become boring, without enough rallies. The final straw appears to have been recent developments including Ivan Zaytsev’s record-setting 127 km/hour serve at the 2016 Olympics, which is believed to be a new Olympic Record; and the leap of 18-year old Canadian Sharone Vernon-Evans to touch 382cm (12’6.5″), which is 1.3 meters (4’7″) clear of the old men’s net height.
Several players also cited safety concerns, pointing to new concussion research that shows that repeated concussions, like those suffered by too many spikes to the face, can lead to long-term health issues. The FIVB conducted a study that determined that the average velocity of a serve would be reduced by approximately 4 miles per hour, and for a spike by 8 miles per hour.
“Defense wins championships,” said FIVB president Ary Graca of the decision. “This has been known for generations, across sports, yet in men’s volleyball, we have a situation where defenses have been rendered almost useless at the international level. It’s time to take our sport back to where it was a beautiful game. This change will be outstanding for fans of volleyball.”
But not everyone is in favor of the change. Don Thompson, who plays middle blocker for the Blockbusters, who were the 2017 City of Boise volleyball league champions in the 40+ division. “It’s already hard enough on my knees to get up and put any kind of a tip at 8 feet (sic),” Thompson said. “They’re fundamentally changing the game of adult rec-league volleyball and diminishing our ability to play the game as we were taught to play. This is bad for the sport of volleyball.”
The FIVB also cited the high jump World Record of 2.45m (just over 8 feet) as evidence that the volleyball net is not high enough. They did not respond to a request to explain the timing, given that the high jump World Record has stood since 1993, where Cuban Javier Sotomayor cleared 8 feet in Spain.
The change will take effect after this summer’s World Championships internationally, and for the 2019 men’s NCAA volleyball season.