Colorado, USA, May 5, 2016 – Karch Kiraly, who has served as coach of the United States women’s national team since taking over the squad in September 2012, has agreed to a contract renewal to lead the programme until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I’m extremely grateful to Doug Beal and USA Volleyball for entrusting me with this special programme, both in 2012 and again now,” Kiraly said. “It’s been a tremendous honour to lead this special group of intelligent, powerful hard-working, dedicated women, and the great staff that supports them. And it’s a double honour to prepare for battle at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 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 FIVB Volleyball Junior World Championship in Brazil – at the same venue where this summer’s Olympic competition will be held.”
In his first more than three years as national team coach, Kiraly has guided the programme to an overall 102-20 record. He coached the programme to its first-ever FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship gold medal in 2014, along with the 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix title, as the United States hosted the Final Round for the first time its 23-year history. USA have won six of their last seven tournament, including the 2016 NORCECA Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament to earn a spot at the Rio 2016 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 USA women’s national team.”
While the USA women have already made history with Kiraly as its coach, the programme will be looking to make more history at the Rio 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 in 1984, 2008 and 2012, and one bronze in 1992, is poised to make a run to the top podium 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,” USA captain Christa Dietzen 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 USA women’s national team 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 Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup and gold at the NORCECA Continental Championship after a disappointing performance in the World Grand Prix Final Round.
USA began to put the pieces together in 2014. In the second year of the quad, they started the season 17-1 including four consecutive wins over then-No. 1 Brazil in the USA Volleyball Cup. However, USA stumbled in the World Grand Prix and failed to make the Final Round. USA used the added time to refocus and change its jump serve to the float in preparation for the World Championship in Italy against the best teams in the world, which resulted to their 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 USA, yet also filled with a little disappointment that will fuel them in 2016. They secured an overall 41-6 record and claimed four gold medals in five tournaments, including the World Grand Prix, Pan American Games, NORCECA Championship and Pan American Cup. USA’s bronze finish at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup, the first Olympic qualifier that ticketed only the top teams to Rio de Janeiro, shows they still have areas to work on heading into 2016.
“Karch is an incredible asset to USA Volleyball,” USA setter Alisha Glass 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.”
Earlier this year, 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 professional club season.
Kiraly served as an assistant coach for the USA women’s team during the 2009-2012 quadrennial under coach Hugh McCutcheon. USA earned the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Kiraly, the player to win Olympic gold in volleyball and beach volleyball, has been recognised 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 coach and player. Along with the Atlanta 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 honours 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 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 High School to the Southern California Championship title in 1978, Kiraly participated on the USA junior national team in 1977, 1978 and 1979 leading into his collegiate career at UCLA.