League One Volleyball (LOVB), the first professional full-season volleyball league in the United States, raised $35 million in its second round of funding, with help from investors Lindsey Vonn, Kevin Durant and Candace Parker and her daughter Lailaa. Here’s what you need to know:
- Jayson Tatum, Amy Schumer and Jordyn Poulter (Olympic volleyball gold medalist), among others, also invested in LOVB.
- LOVB’s inaugural season debuts next year, with preseason starting November 2024 and the regular season running January through March 2025. The LOVB Pro Finals begin in April.
- There will be six host cities of the league, including Atlanta, Houston, Omaha (Neb.), Salt Lake (Utah), Madison (Wisc.) and one more to be announced later this year.
There are more than 38 million current and former volleyball players in the United States, according to LOVB. The sport had a recent historic breakthrough on Aug. 30, when a University of Nebraska volleyball game recorded the world record for fan attendance at a women’s sporting event, surpassing 92,000 fans. The previous U.S. record was established on July 10, 1999, at the Rose Bowl as Team USA beat China in the Women’s World Cup final.
The event, called “Volleyball Day in Nebraska,” was held at Nebraska’s football venue, Memorial Stadium, after Nebraska coach John Cook, who has led the Huskers to four of their five NCAA championships, and athletic director Trev Alberts thought of the plan after Wisconsin set a regular-season attendance record for a volleyball match.
Women’s sports in general have been on the rise. The NCAA women’s basketball tournament championship game this year, in which LSU beat Iowa, attracted an average 9.9 million viewers — more than 4 million over the previous record for that event. The women’s basketball tournament also broke an attendance record.
What they’re saying
Katlyn Gao, co-founder and CEO of League One Volleyball, said “this is volleyball’s era.”
“To us, this is the only way to build a sustainable and successful league in 2023, and if the excitement from some of the most well-known and admired trailblazers across sports, entertainment, consumer and business in our latest round is any indication, it’s clear, LOVB is onto something big,” she said.
Vonn, an Olympic gold medalist, said she is “thrilled” to help bring major-league volleyball to the U.S.
“With over 200 million girls involved in the sport globally, this is a huge opportunity to continue providing a platform for young women to excel, both athletically and personally, far beyond high school,” she said. “It’s about empowering the next generation of female athletes and fostering a strong sense of community within the sport.”
Candace Parker and her daughter Lailaa added they are excited to invest in a league “focused on community and unlocking new opportunities for women in sports.”
(Photo: Keith Lucas / NCAA Photos / NCAA Photos via Getty Images)