The Athletes Unlimited pro women's volleyball league will move its season to the fall in 2023 to match the women's college season, and the league's games will be carried on ESPN networks and ESPN+.
AU also will have an exhibition tour from March 23-April 21, visiting eight of the top college programs in the country: Louisville, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Baylor, Howard and Penn State.
Along with volleyball, AU has professional basketball, softball and lacrosse leagues for women, using a format where all games are played in one city. Players start on four teams that wear different-colored uniforms and have assigned captains.
They then compile points based on their team results and individual statistics. At the end of each week, the top four players in the points standings become captains and repick their teams. At the end of the five-week season, there is an overall points winner.
"Volleyball is clearly gaining in popularity, both in terms of participation as well as fan interest at all levels," said former Stanford volleyball standout Cassidy Lichtman, director of sport for Athletes Unlimited Volleyball. "It's amazing to see industry leaders like ESPN recognize the value of the sport and invest in its future."