I recently posted some video of the 1982 World Championships Final between the Soviet Union and Brazil. For the most part, due to the low quality of the video, there is not so much to learn about volleyball but it remains an interesting historical document. I would say that volleyball at that time was barely recognisable from what we know today. Technically, the players today are far superior. What is instantly noticeable to me is difficulty players have in receiving serves that we would today be considered easy serves. But it is in block that the greatest improvements have been made. It is astonishing to me that there are so many single or no block situations when there are only two spikers in the frontrow. And when the players somehow find themselves near the ball, they mostly wave their arms around and see what happens. At least the Brazilians, the Soviets are at least technically reasonable.
On the positive side, there is a lot of variation in offence (both individual and team) that we don’t see today. I would contend that the greatest reason for the current relative lack of variation in offence is the massive improvement in block. I am sure a guy like Rajzman (#12 from Brazil, if you can make out the numbers) would be eaten up by the block in 2013, but it is still fun to watch him run in all sorts of directions, at all sorts of tempos trying to get the block on the move so he could score. Despite his attacking prowess, it must have been painful for his coach to watch his blocking even at that time though!
These are only my opinions thirty years after the fact. Click on the picture below to read the official technical report of the tournament and find out what they thought about those topics in January 1983.