*photograph courtesy of Dickinson College Archives

This picture features the 1979 women's volleyball team.  This photograph was taken at the Memorial Gymnasium, which today is the Weiss Center for the Arts on the Dickinson College campus.  In this picture, #3 Karen Meshner is spiking the ball over the net while #1 is attentively waiting to see what happens.  The head coach of the women's volleyball team in 1979 was Elaine M. Goldband.  In 1979, the women's volleyball team posted a 7-8 record.

Volleyball is a sport which originated in the United States.  W.G. Morgan, a physical fitness advisor at the Holyoke, Massachusetts Y.M.C.A., designed this game in 1895.  Morgan initially designed this sport for men who found basketball to be grueling.  However, Morgan also believed volleyball was an enjoyable sport for people of all ages to play.

Written evidence of Volleyball at Dickinson can be traced to 1937.  At this time, volleyball was played for recreation as the freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior class commonly played against each other.  Often, there would be eight women playing at a time in a 3-3-2 line-up.  Perhaps one can acknowledge Ruth Porter for organizing recreational games like Volleyball at Dickinson in the late 1930's.  By 1938, interest in volleyball began to increase as more women began to play.  The sport became so popular that it was added to the women's sports calendar and was classified as a winter sport.  Surprisingly, the Freshmen won the Volleyball Tournament in 1938.  In 1939, Ann Housman became the manager of the women's recreational sports program and Volleyball continued to grow in popularity.

By 1943, volleyball continued to be played recreationally among the classes.  The popularity of the sport was still increasing as is evident in the large turn outs of women who played in the tournaments.  From 1944-1951, volleyball continued to be played as an intramural sport at Dickinson.  The tournament was never dominated by the same class every year as the freshmen won as often as the seniors.  In 1953, the rules of volleyball became modified to promote a game of skill and patience versus the hurried style of play the women were accustomed to playing.  This modification allowed the game to end when a team scored twenty-one points.  Originally, the game was played over a pre-determined amount of time.

In 1955, volleyball still remained an intramural sport.  However, more than one team per class was allowed to play in the tournament.  By 1956, volleyball was recognized as a indoor sport and continued to be played as a intramural sport until 1976.  In 1976, Dickinson volleyball became intercollegiate and the team posted a 9-5 overall record and was 4-3 in the first year of Volleyball in the MAC conference.  In 1977, the team had a 9-7 overall record and qualified for the MAC tournament.  1978 and 1979 were sub par years for the Devils as the volleyball team posted a 6-7 overall record in 1978 and a 7-8 record in 1979.

See also: Volleyball 1986

Josh Frederick

Microcosm 1938-1957, 1977-1980
Team Card Record Files - located in the Physical Education Office of the Kline Center, Dickinson College, Pa.
Kathleen Barber -Emerita Professor of Physical Education, Dickinson College (interviewed December 1997)
The Oxford Companion to Sports & Games - Edited by John Arlott