Karch Kiraly, the UCLA volleyball legend who had a seat on the bench next to Hugh McCutcheon as his assistant for the U.S. women’s silver-medal-winning team during the 2012 London Olympics, has been named as the team’s head coach heading into the 2016 Summer Games in Rio De Janerio, USA Volleyball announced today.
“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,” Kiraly, inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2001, said in a statement. “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 head coach Hugh McCutcheon and his staff.”
McCutcheon has left to become the head women’s coach at the University of Minnesota.
“He’s a great man and a wonderful volleyball coach – this is a fantastic hire,” McCutcheon said of Kiraly’s appointment.
The 2012 U.S. team won its first seven matches before losing to Brazil in the gold-medal game.
“This program has such a history of high performance and accomplished so much, including three Olympic Games silver medals … yet is has never won a Triple Crown event: a World Championships, a World Cup or an Olympics,” Kiraly said. “At some point, the USA women will change that, and I yearn to help in that effort.”
Kiraly, the greatest player in beach volleyball history, remains the only volleyball player, male or female, to win Olympic gold indoors and outdoors. The International Volleyball Federation named Kiraly as the greatest men’s volleyball player of the sport’s first century.
Before retiring at the end of 2007, Kiraly had won 148 beach volleyball tournaments (144 domestic, 3 FIVB international events), more than any other player in history.
More from TeamUSA.org (linked here).