By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
A volleyball exhibition this Saturday featuring local and state teams will also provide some insight into the origins of the “9-man” version.
Organized by David Chee—a volleyball referee and former player—the event will take place at North Attleborough High School on June 11 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. It will open with the girls teams playing against three Boston women’s volleyball teams. At 1:30, men’s teams will take the court and will play in the 9-man format. Chee said he will offer commentary during this part of the event.
“It’s a cultural event,” said Chee.
First created in the 1930s by Chinese laundry workers as a means of socializing, the 9-man form of volleyball grew in popularity. These players had limited opportunities in other organizations due to discrimination, said Chee, and sometimes played in the street or parking lots.
In 1944, the fist North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament was held in Boston, with nine-man and six-women teams. Tournaments are held in several U.S. cities, as well as Canada. Two-thirds of the players on each team must be 100 percent Chinese, with the rest of Asian descent. The tournament is held every Labor Day weekend and is usually played outdoors on paved areas. The men’s 9-man portion of the NACIVT became the subject of the 2014 documentary “9-Man.”
Chee said this exhibition gives those of Asian heritage to see there’s a unique opportunity for them to play. He added that there are few boys or men’s teams in the area, and hopes to pique interest.
“It comes down to a fun thing to see and watch and get people inspired to participate in some kind of volleyball in the future,” he said.
Chee described the 9-man game as an art form. Only three hits are allowed, including blocks, and no one can block at the net, something commonly seen in the six-person games. The preferred method of passing is an underhand scooping move. There’s even a slam dunk-type hit, where the player pushes the ball in a single non-upward direction and then changes direction, slamming the ball to the ground.
“The exciting thing is it’s taken to a new level,” said Chee.