U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach
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 as announced on May 5, 2016.
“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 119-23 record (92-20 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 seven tournaments from the 2014 FIVB World Championship to the 2016 NORCECA Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament.
“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 Brazil and No. 3 China, 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. Following the returns of the American players from their international pro club seasons in Europe, Asia and South America, the U.S. Women returned to Anaheim for a month's training before embarking on the prestigious FIVB World Grand Prix - the premier annual international women's volleyball Tournament. Team USA finished 8-1 in the preliminary phase, including a sweep of then-No. 2 China in Hong Kong to enter the Final Round as the top seed. The Americans finished the tournament with the silver medal after a thrilling five-set loss to Olympic Games host Brazil in Thailand.
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 and finished the 2009-2012 quad with a 106-39 record.
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. He won at least one tournament in 24 of his 27 seasons of playing beach volleyball, claiming titles with 13 different partners during his four-decade long career. Kiraly was named the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) Most Valuable Player six times.
“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. In 1992, UCLA retired the All-American’s jersey and inducted him into the UCLA Hall of Fame. Kiraly led the Bruins to a 124-5 record from 1979-82, including three NCAA titles and a runner-up finish. In 2009, Kiraly was inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America® Hall of Fame.
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.
Kiraly now lives in San Clemente, Calif., with his wife, Janna. The couple has two sons, Kristian and Kory.
Karch Kiraly Quotes from September 2012
“I have revered representing the USA and wearing the Red, White and Blue ever since my first experience with the Junior National Team at 16 years old,” said Kiraly upon accepting the head coach position in September of 2012. “It is a tremendous honor to be asked to lead such a powerful volleyball program, and I am thrilled to be able to carry forward the effort expended by this hard-working and talented group of athletes – an effort led by my mentor and friend, previous (U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team) Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon, and his staff.”
“My foundational principles were established decades ago, having had the opportunity to play for and work with many of the best coaches in the history of this sport: the short list includes Rick Olmstead, Al Scates, Doug Beal, Bill Neville, Marv Dunphy and more recently Hugh McCutcheon,” Kiraly said. “I lived my athletic career with these principles as my guide, and continue to adhere to them as a volleyball teacher and coach. They are: Mastery of Fundamentals, Relentless Preparation, Elevating the Play of Those Around Us, and Ferocious Competition.”
1988 Olympics (Gold)
- Team captain
- Team MVP
- 137 kills, 16 block stuffs, 15 block assists, 60 percent kill percentage
1987 Pan American Games (Gold)
1986 World Championship (Gold)
- All-tournament honors
- Named "World's Best Volleyball Player" by FIVB President Ruben Acosta
1985 World Cup (Gold)
1985 NORCECA (Gold)
1985 Appointed Team Captain of National Team
1984 Olympics (Gold)
- Outside/swing hitter
- Youngest player on team (23)
- Played in all games (19), more than any other player
- FIVB Sportsmanship Award
- Connected on 74 of 158 spike attempts
1983 NORCECA (Gold)
1981 NORCECA (silver)
1982 NCAA Championship (1st)
1981 NCAA Championship (1st)
1980 NCAA Championship (2nd)
1979 NCAA Championship (1st)
124-5 in Matches during 4 years
1977-1979 U.S. Men’s Junior National Team
1979 World University Games
- Starting setter
1979 Pacific Rim Tournament (1st)
1978 Pacific Rim Tournament (1st)
1977 Pacific Rim Tournament
1976-1978 Santa Barbara High School
- 1978 State MVP (CIF)
- Won 83 straight matches
- Undefeated in senior season
Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympic Games with Kent Steffes
U.S. domestic tournaments: 1st (144 times) $3,114,998
FIVB international tournaments: 1st (3 times) $83,750
AVP Best Defensive Player 2002
AVP Best Offensive Player 1990, 1993, 1994
AVP Comeback Player of the Year 1997
AVP Miller Lite Cup Champion 1996
AVP Most Inspirational 1998
AVP Most Valuable Player 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998
AVP Outstanding Achievement 2004
AVP Special Achievement 2002
AVP Sportsman of the Year 1995, 1997, 1998
AVP Team of the Year 2004 (Mike Lambert)