Cross-Battle Selected for Volleyball Hall of Fame

May 02, 2014, 10:28 a.m. (ET)

HOLYOKE, Mass. (May 2, 2014) – The Volleyball Hall of Fame announced today the names of six volleyball legends who will be inducted as the Class of 2014 into its hallowed halls on Oct. 18 in Holyoke, Mass., the sport’s birthplace.

The 29th induction class consists of female indoor volleyball players Tara Cross-Battle of the United States and Roza Salikhova of the former USSR, 
male indoor volleyball player Nalbert Bitencourt of Brazil, female beach volleyball great Sandra Pires of Brazil, indoor coach Joop Alberda of the Netherlands and leader Miloslav Ejem of Czech Republic.

“The 2014 Volleyball Hall of Fame class represents six remarkable individuals who elevated the sport to new levels in their countries and on the international stage,” said Doug Beal, co-chair of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Selection Committee. “This induction class, with diversity of gender, country and discipline, continues to uphold the highest qualities of the game through its athletes, coaches and leaders.”

The induction class is elected via a vote of current Volleyball Hall of Fame inductees. A total of 21 different countries are represented in the Volleyball Hall of Fame with at least one inductee. All told, 121 individuals will have been inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame after this year’s enshrinement ceremony.

“Joop Alberda led Netherlands Men’s Volleyball into a golden era in the 1990s, then transitioned his skills to the Dutch Olympic Committee for several years,” Beal said. “Nalbert Bitencourt was a multi-dimensional star in the early 2000s and led Brazil to the Triple Crown of gold medals. Tara Cross-Battle played in a then-record four Olympics for the USA and her longevity in the sport spanned many great moments. Miloslav Ejem of the Czech Republic has influenced so many generations of coaches through his tenured leadership on FIVB commissions and his dozens of books. Sandra Pires helped make beach volleyball an international sensation by winning the first-ever Olympic beach volleyball gold medal with partner Jackie Silva in 1996. Roza Salikhova was part of the USSR’s back-to-back Olympic Games gold-medal teams of 1968 and 1972 and was part of six USSR championships from 1970 to 1977.”

“The class of 2014 honors a diverse group of legends from the last half-century of the game,” said George Mulry, executive director of the Volleyball Hall of Fame. “These remarkable athletes and leaders have brought distinction to the sport over a number of years and we are humbled to honor them here in the birthplace of volleyball.”

“This year’s class represents the great diversity and sense of community within our sport as five countries are represented from three different zonal Confederations,” said Al Monaco, co-chair of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Selection Committee. “We have legendary athletes from indoor and beach volleyball whose accomplishments spanned six Olympic Games, a coach who led his country to its first-ever Olympic gold medal in volleyball and a leader within our sport who shared his coaching knowledge for over 30 years. It will be a remarkable October evening as we induct these six individuals.”

“Congratulations for induction into the Volleyball Hall of Fame!” Brazilian Bernard Rajzman, a 2005 inductee into the Volleyball Hall of Fame, said in regards to the six inductees. “It is recognition from our volleyball world of the great performances and outstanding contributions made by each one of you, enabling your name to be memorialized in the history of our beloved sport. Welcome to the Volleyball Hall of Fame of which I am deeply proud to take part!”

The Volleyball Hall of Fame induction festivities include a Mayor’s reception on Friday, Oct. 17, at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, followed by the Ring and Plaque Ceremony inside the Volleyball Hall of Fame from noon to 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 18, with the formal Enshrinement Dinner and Ceremony taking place the evening of Oct. 18.

The Volleyball Hall of Fame, incorporated in 1978, continues to create a more representative institution with inductees of both genders and disciplines – indoor volleyball and beach volleyball – coming from a wide range of countries. For additional information on attending the 2014 Volleyball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, contact the Volleyball Hall of Fame at or visit the Hall’s website at

Joop Alberda (Netherlands) – INDOOR VOLLEYBALL COACH
Joop Alberda was appointed head coach of the Netherlands Men’s National Team in 1994 and soon became a legendary figure within the program. He guided Netherlands to the gold medal at 1996 FIVB World League, and that success continued on into the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games as the Dutch won their first-ever Olympic Games gold medal. He was proclaimed the Best Volleyball Coach in the world after the two gold-medal performances, and the Dutch chose the 1996 Olympic performance the top sports moment of the 20th century. Alberda served as the technical director for the Dutch Olympic Committee from 1997 to 2004, and that led to a record 25 Dutch medals at the 2000 Olympic Games. He later served as the technical director for the Dutch Volleyball Federation from 2006 to 2010.

“Joop Alberda made us play at a level we did not establish before,” said 2012 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Peter Blangé of the Netherlands. “With a simplified game the higher ball velocity gave an extra dimension to our way of play. Besides the technical part, Joop gave the main responsibility to the players what to decide on the court. He knew the team was at the level of unconsciously competent. And Joop is also a warm social visionary ready to support when necessary.”

Nalbert Bitencourt (Brazil) – MALE INDOOR VOLLEYBALL PLAYER
Nalbert Bitencourt was a multi-dimensional player equally skilled as a passer and attacker on Brazil’s dominating teams of the early 2000s. He was part of Brazil’s Triple Crown of gold medals in winning the 2002 FIVB World Championship, the 2003 FIVB World Cup and the 2004 Olympic Games. During the Triple Crown run, Bitencourt helped Brazil capture the 2001 and 2003 FIVB World League titles to go with the 2002 World League silver medal and 2007 World League gold medal. He was selected as Brazil’s Sportsman of the Year in 2002. Bitencourt played professionally in three countries - Brazil (1992-1999, 2004-), Italy (1999-2002, 2002-2004), Japan (2001-2002).

Tara Cross-Battle (United States) – FEMALE INDOOR VOLLEYBALL PLAYER
Tara Cross-Battle became the United States’ first four-time Olympic Games volleyball player having competed in the Games in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. In her debut Olympics, she helped the United States to the bronze medal in Barcelona. Cross-Battle competed in three FIVB World Championships (1990, 1994, 2002), winning the bronze medal in 1990 and the silver medal in 2002. She was instrumental in the United States winning gold medals in the 1995 and 2001 FIVB World Grand Prix, along with bronze medals in the 2003 FIVB World Cup and World Grand Prix. In 2001, Cross-Battle led the U.S. to the NORCECA Continental Championship and was named most valuable player in the tournament.

“I would like to personally welcome Tara to the Volleyball Hall of Fame!” said 2013 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Caren Kemner of the United States. “I was so blessed to compete with Tara in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. She is a ferocious competitor and a consummate student of the game. Tara possessed the ability to handle the game from the first contact to the last which served her well, not only as Olympian but professionally overseas and as someone who continues to give back to the game. Congratulations!”

Miloslav Ejem (Czech Republic) – LEADER
Miloslav Ejem of the Czech Republic has been a leader within the FIVB for over three decades and passed on his technical knowledge to countless up-and-coming coaches. He served on the FIVB Coaches Commission for nearly 30 years with stints as both the commission president and secretary. Ejem was a member of the FIVB Technical Commission from 1994 to 2002. He held a spot on the FIVB Board of Administration from 1998 to 2002. Ejem shared or independently authored approximately 30 books, including the FIVB Coaches Manual, and over 100 volleyball technical articles. He served on the Czech Volleyball Federation Administrative Board from 1969 to 1982.

Sandra Pires helped usher in beach volleyball at the Olympic Games and was a dominant force on the sand for many years. She and Jackie Silva won the inaugural Olympic Games beach volleyball gold medal in 1996. Four years later Pires teamed with Adriana Samuel to win the silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games. She and Silva won the 1997 FIVB World Championship held in Los Angeles. Pires later teamed with Tatiana Minello to earn the bronze medal at the 2001 FIVB World Championship. Pires was a three-time FIVB Tour Champion in 1995, 1996 and 2003, won 20 FIVB titles and reached the medal podium in 110 FIVB events.

“I was lucky enough to travel and play against Sandra during her amazing career with partner, Jackie Silva,” said 2007 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Kerri Pottharst of Australia. “Sandra was a fierce competitor and she let you know it when on the court. However, off court, she is a wonderful, funny and kind-hearted person and I am super excited to see her join this group and be honored in Holyoke. Congratulations Sandra!!”

Roza Salikhova was a nominated attacker for the USSR in the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s. She earned gold medals at both the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games as the USSR was in a class of its own during that period. In between the two gold medals, Salikhova helped the USSR to the 1970 FIVB World Championship gold medal and later captured the silver medal at the 1974 FIVB World Championship. Her medal collection also includes gold medals at the 1967 and 1971 European Championships. During her career she won six USSR championships playing for two different clubs. Salikhova was presented the USSR Honorable Master of Sport in 1968 and was later honored with the Order “Sign of Honor.”