Overview

AUSTRALIAN VOLLEYBALL LEAGUE

In 1998 the Australian Volleyball League (AVL) was reintroduced into the competition calendar after a few attempts of running a National League over the years, with the Grand Prix series in the mid 90’s and the NVL in the 80’s.

Officially, only a mens league in the first year, a women's competition was held at the same time.  The 1998 season was kicked off on Saturday, April 18, at the Melbourne at the Sports and Aquatic Centre and ran for just four short rounds. There was however, plenty of great volleyball played in that time, with the Australian Institute of Sport defeating Sydney Cedars for the men’s gold medal and a weekly game televised on SBS Television.

The following year saw the introduction of the womens league and it was felt at the time by the Federation that the AVL was an essential ingredient in achieving the long term objective of the sport – to be the number 1 indoor winter sport in this country. The longer season of weekly or fortnightly games, home and away locations provided a better marketing and media opportunities for the sport, something that the week long tradition National Championships did not. It was then decided in 1999 that no Australian Open Championships would be held and the AVL would replace the Championships as the only interstate volleyball competition.

The first few seasons of the league saw it run in the first half of the year, usually anywhere from March to May, with one year the finals being held in July in conjunction with the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships. In 2003 a shift was made to the later part of the year, from September to December, usually after the finals of the State’s own League competitions, and the AVL finals being held the weekend before the start of the Australian Volleyball schools Cup in Melbourne each year.

With the demise of the women’s AIS program in 2005 and the review of womens elite volleyball in Australia, the decision was made to move the womens competition back to being early to mid-year and for the league to be used as the selection ground for the national team each year. The mens league continued on in the later part of the year as it had done since 2003.

The league saw many different competitions formats over its time, with northern and southern conferences, home and away series, single and double round robins and grand prix style series. The number of teams each year also fluctuated as clubs formed; disbanded and reformed, or restrictions were placed on licenses that were bought. It seems that even though the League has run every year since its inception, save for two mens competitions in 2007 and 2011, the competition has never gotten the right combination of factors all together at the same time, to make it the showcase that it could be.