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3-Time Gold Medalist Karch Kiraly Will Continue To Coach Women’s Volleyball Team Through 2020

By Craig Bohnert | May 05, 2016, 5:35 p.m. (ET)

Karch Kiraly poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit on March 8, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Karch Kiraly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a name synonymous with excellence in volleyball, will remain at the helm of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team through the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. His contract renewal was announced today by USA Volleyball.

“We feel honored and very lucky that we have been able to secure Karch’s services,” said USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer Doug Beal. “The job that he’s done up to now in this quadrennium has been exceptional. To be able to have the continuity with someone that we value so highly is a huge plus for our program and the young women who are making up our team. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to have this kind of continuity with one of the head coaches of our national team, and I’m terrifically pleased that it could be with Karch.”

“It has been a huge honor for me to be able to work with this program on behalf of USA Volleyball,” Kiraly said. “One of the great things about coaching is getting to work with lots of good people around you, and I am incredibly blessed to be able to work with an amazing group of women who are powerful and intelligent and dedicated. They are trying to do things that have never been done by this program before. It is a challenge and also a blessing every day to get to work with a group of people that are so focused on accomplishing things like that. We’re excited about the long-term future of this program.”

In his more than three years as head coach, Kiraly has led the program to a 102-20 record, including an 81-18 record as the head coach on the sidelines due to conflicting tournaments. Under his guidance, the program won the 2014 FIVB world championship, a first for the United States, as well as the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix. The U.S. has won six of its last seven tournaments, a run that includes the championship of the 2016 NORCECA Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament, giving the Americans a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.

Currently ranked No. 1 in the world, the U.S. is in search of its first Olympic gold medal to go with its three silvers (1984, 2008, 2012).

As a player, Kiraly set the standard for international volleyball. Named the greatest men’s volleyball player of the sport's first century by FIVB, he led the U.S. men’s team to the famed “Triple Crown of Volleyball” with gold medals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, the 1985 FIVB World Cup and the 1986 FIVB World Championship. He was the captain of the U.S. side that successfully defended its Olympic title at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games. Eight years later, he earned his third Olympic gold medal, this time in beach volleyball with partner Kent Steffes at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

As a collegiate player, Kiraly led UCLA to three NCAA championships and a record of 124-5 during his four years in Westwood, California. He was inducted into the Bruins’ Hall of Fame in 1992, and he also was inducted into the California Sports and College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America hall of fame in 2009.

Before closing out his playing career in 2007, Kiraly had won 148 beach volleyball tournaments, more than any other player in history. He combined with 13 different partners during a career that spanned four decades and won at least one tournament in 24 of his 27 seasons in beach volleyball. He was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008.

Looking ahead to Rio, Kiraly assessed the challenge he faces in his first Olympic tournament as head coach.

“It’s going to be a really deep tournament, a great tournament,” he said. “It will be a great test for every team in that tournament. A big part of our focus is how do we respond to those situations of adversity, how do we respond when our original plan fails – as it inevitably will at points – and how do we respond with poise and calm to go to Plan B and C.”

Kiraly sees the host nation, two-time defending Olympic champion Brazil, as a formidable foe with an edge on its home court. He believes team chemistry will play a key factor in his squad’s success in Rio.

“Certainly we’re going to be facing some massive headwinds,” he said. “That’s the reason we focus so much on being the team that is the most apt, willing and hungry to battle for each other. You can’t be tough alone, and we’re going to need to be really, really tough to try to accomplish something that the USA women have never done before.”