COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 5, 2016) – Karch Kiraly, who has served as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team since taking over the squad in September 2012, has agreed to a contract renewal to lead the program through to the 2020 Olympic Games.
“I’m extremely grateful to Doug Beal and USA Volleyball for entrusting me with this special program, both in 2012, and again now,” Kiraly said. “It’s been a tremendous honor to lead this special group of intelligent, powerful, hard-working, dedicated women, and the great staff that supports them - and it’s a double honor to prepare for battle at the Rio Olympics, knowing we’ll have the opportunity to carry that work forward in the next quadrennial. I first learned what a special privilege it is to represent our unique country as a 16-year-old with the Boys’ Junior National Team at the 1977 World Junior Championships in Brazil - at the same venue where this summer’s Olympic competition will be held.”
In his first three-plus years as head coach, Kiraly has guided the program to an overall 102-20 record (81-18 record with Kiraly as head coach on the sideline due to conflicting tournaments). He coached the program to its first-ever FIVB World Championship gold medal in 2014, along with the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix title as the U.S. hosted the Final Round for the first time in its 23-year history. The Americans have won six of their last seven tournaments, including the 2016 NORCECA Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament to earn a spot at the Rio Olympic Games this summer.
“I am extremely pleased to be able to extend Karch's contract with USA Volleyball for another quad,” USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal said. “His performance as a coach has been nothing short of fantastic. The team has accomplished successes at a level that make him one of the most impressive and successful coaches in the world today. The continuity this allows as we continue to build a broad program and Karch establishes his brand and culture on USA Volleyball is also exceptional for the future of our U.S. Women's National Team.”
While the U.S. Women have already made history with Kiraly as its head coach, the program will be looking to make more history at the 2016 Olympic Games. Team USA, ranked No. 1 in the world by the FIVB ahead of No. 2 China and No. 3 Brazil, will be seeking its first Olympic Games gold medal. The squad, which has three Olympic silver medals (1984, 2008 and 2012) and one bronze (1992), is poised to make a run to the top podium step with a core group of veterans mixed in with seven newcomers who have contributed heavily to the team’s success since joining the squad this quadrennial.
“Karch brings his expertise in the game and was arguably one of the best volleyball players to have played the game,” U.S. Women’s National Team captain Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania) said. “He is able to bring that level of knowledge and is able to relate that information to us. Karch has brought a tremendous amount of leadership to this quad, has taught us all to be better learners, deal with adversity and understands what we are going through because he has been in our shoes as an Olympian and professional player.”
Kiraly started his U.S. Women’s head coaching career with an infusion of youth in 2013 that resulted in a 25-6 record and mixed results throughout the season. The squad captured the silver at the season-ending FIVB World Grand Champions Cup and gold at the NORCECA Continental Championship after a disappointing performance in the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round.
Team USA began to put the pieces together in 2014. In the second year of the quad, the Americans started the season 17-1 including four consecutive wins over then-No. 1 Brazil in the USA Volleyball Cup. However, Team USA stumbled in the FIVB World Grand Prix and failed to make the Final Round. The U.S. used the added time to re-focus and change its jump serve to the float in preparation for the World Championship in Italy against the best teams in the world. What resulted was Team USA’s first-ever World Championship title in the 62-year history of the event to cap a 33-8 season.
The year 2015 may go down as one of the best seasons for Team USA, yet also filled with a little disappointment that will fuel them in 2016. The Americans secured an overall 41-6 record and claimed four gold medals in five tournaments, including the FIVB World Grand Prix, Pan American Games, NORCECA Championship and Pan American Cup. Yet, Team USA’s bronze finish at the FIVB World Cup, the first Olympic Qualifier that ticketed only the top two teams to Rio, shows they still have areas to work on heading into 2016.
“Karch is an incredible asset to USA Volleyball,” U.S. Women’s National Team setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) said. “Not only does he possess a wealth of knowledge that he accrued during his playing days, but he passionately searches for betterment of himself and those around him. He is a perpetual learner of the game, and that emanates throughout his staff, and to all players involved in the program. Karch’s signing on for another quad provides the program with stability and the opportunity to build upon the strong foundation that he’s laid thus far.”
Days into the 2016 new year, Team USA won the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament to gain entry into the 2016 Olympic Games’ 12-team field. Now the team is reconvening its training block in Anaheim after nearly all were overseas from October to April playing in the pro club season.
Kiraly served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women during the 2009-2012 quadrennial under head coach Hugh McCutcheon. The Americans earned the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Kiraly, the first male or female player to win Olympic gold in both indoor and beach volleyball, has been recognized by many as the greatest volleyball player. He was selected the greatest volleyball player of the 20th century by the FIVB. He is the fourth volleyball player to win a World Championship title as both a head coach and player. Along with the 1996 Olympic Games beach volleyball gold medal, Kiraly won 148 beach volleyball tournaments.
“Karch has proven to be every bit as talented in the role of a coach as he was as a player and his value to USA Volleyball goes far beyond his role simply coaching the National Team,” Beal said. “He is valued as a spokesperson and representative of USA Volleyball, and he has tremendous respect around the world. He has a connection to USA Volleyball that no one else has attained in so many different roles.”
Kiraly has been bestowed many honors for his volleyball skills. He was inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008. Kiraly was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005, followed by the College Sports Information Directors of American (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 2009.
Kiraly’s introduction to the sport occurred at the age of six. He earned his A and AA rating on the beach at the age of 15 and his AAA rating at 17. After leading Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School to the Southern California Championship title in 1978, Kiraly participated on the U.S. Junior National Team in 1977, 1978 and 1979 leading into his collegiate career at UCLA.