TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – In many countries, volleyball is so popular that their local, national and international matches are televised more than a lot of popular US sports. 

So why hasn’t the US been a part of this?

Topeka native Kaylee Manns is one of the pioneering players for Athletes Unlimited, the United States’ first professional women’s indoor volleyball league.

“I’m actually (playing) in America,” Manns said. “Everybody’s in my time zone. People can watch me on TV. My friends can call me and heckle me.”

Athletes Unlimited runs a little different than other professional leagues:

  • There are no designated cities for each team.
  • Captains draft players to their teams every week, so every weekend brings different matchups.
  • Scoring is based on team and player performance. Certain moves or mistakes can add or even subtract points from the team that set.

“You only play three sets,” Manns said. “You get points for every set win, and then you get points for the overall win, and it’s an overall score total. So you could win two sets out of the three, but still lose the match.”

Having professional volleyball in the US means high school and college players can look forward to playing in their home country, not just thousands of miles away overseas.

“I think it’s just so important for women’s sports in general,” Manns said. “It’s so nice because there’s nothing like that here, and volleyball does have a huge following for females, even collegiately. I think if you can take some of those players that people watch, admire and love to interact with, and put them on the stage even longer in America, that’s really important and really cool for women’s sports.”

The next season of Athletes Unlimited volleyball begins Spring 2022.