Before Karch coached, he was a volleyball player.

Sept. 22, 2014, 11:07 p.m. (ET)

Before Karch Kiraly coached, he was a volleyball player.

By all accounts a pretty good one.

At court side of any USA match, you won’t see Karch hopping up and down like some do and that’s because Karch is weighted down with three Olympic gold medals.

Heavy medals are hard to come by. In fact, the U.S. Women’s National Team has not won a gold medal at the three majors of the sport: the Olympic Games, World Championships or the World Cup. Something the team hopes to change at the FIVB World Championships, starting with the first round in Verona, Italy, this week.

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“I love this group,” said Kiraly at the pre-event press conference. “They are powerful, dedicated, hardworking and smart. We’re trying to help this group to something special.”

The team plays Mexico tomorrow, Sept. 23, in the first of five matches in Verona.

This will not be the first time that Karch Kiraly has led an American team into competition in Verona. In fact, when he arrived at the team’s hotel on Sunday afternoon, he was handed a DVD of a match Kiraly and Team USA played against the Soviet Union in 1988.

The match, an exhibition between the top two teams in the world at the time, was played outdoors in the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre, Arena di Verona.

So after the team’s video session last night, “I let our players know that if they really wanted to look back in the stone ages of volleyball they could watch a little,” Kiraly said. “It was fun to have Marv (Dunphy, the team’s assistant coach) here because he was our coach then and it was fun to watch the old USA men at work. It was wonderful. It was a beautiful gift.”

“That was the only time I actually played in Verona and now we will play in a more traditional hall.”

The U.S. brings a young team Italy with five Olympians on the roster as well as five players in their first or second year with the national team. Most on the roster have not played at the World Championships.

Kelly Murphy and Kelsey Robinson, both relative newcomers to the squad, have led the team in scoring in 2014.

“It’s great to have some exciting young players who are going to learn a lot this tournament as Jordan (Larson-Burbach), for example, out of a number of athletes, learned a bunch four years ago in 2010 in a very long and arduous campaign.”

“I think we’re capable of a very strong result. We also have lots of young players and we’re asking a lot from them. We’re asking a lot from all 14 of our players, so we’re excited about the possibilities.

“We can’t get the result that we want in this tournament without all 14 players making a significant contribution.”  

Moving forward in the tournament will require “playing as hard we can and emptying the tank on every rally. We can’t look passed anybody and we’re not doing so. All of our focus is on Mexico and then it will be okay to look at the next opponent.”

The U.S. will need to refill the tank almost instantaneously because after the 8 p.m. match with Mexico on Tuesday, the U.S. plays Kazakhstan on Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.

“That is an incredibly quick turnaround,” Kiraly said. “That’s something that we have to be prepared for. After that the schedule is more kind to us.”

First-Round Schedule (All times local)
Sept. 23 … Mexico at 8 p.m.
Sept. 24 … Kazakhstan at 10:30 a.m.
Sept. 25 … Netherlands at 8 p.m.
Sept. 27 … Thailand at 8 p.m.
Sept. 28 … Russia at 8 p.m.

All matches will be streamed live on UniversalSports.com.