Karch Kiraly

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Karch Kiraly
Karch Kiraly.jpg
Personal information
Full name Charles Frederick Kiraly
Nickname Karch
Nationality United States
Born (1960-11-03) November 3, 1960 (age 58)
Jackson, Michigan
Hometown San Clemente, California, United States
Height 188 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 93 kg (205 lb)
Beach volleyball information
Previous teammates
Years Teammate Tours (points)
2003 Brent Doble 120

Charles Frederick "Karch" Kiraly (/ˈkɑːr kɪˈr/) (born November 3, 1960) is an American volleyball player, coach and broadcast announcer. He is one of three people who have won Olympic gold medals in both volleyball categories: beach and indoor. The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, (FIVB), volleyball's highest governing body, honored Kiraly as the greatest volleyball player of the 20th Century. He played college volleyball for the UCLA Bruins and won three national championships under head coach Al Scates.

Early life

Kiraly grew up in Santa Barbara, California. He began playing volleyball at age six with encouragement from his father, Dr. Laszlo Kiraly, who had been a member of the Hungarian Junior National team prior to fleeing the country during the Hungarian national uprising of 1956. At age 11, Kiraly entered his first beach volleyball tournament paired with his father.[1]

Kiraly attended Santa Barbara High School, where he was a member of the boys' varsity volleyball team. His father played a key role in creating the boy's volleyball program at the school. The Dons of Santa Barbara made it to the championship game twice during Kiraly's high school years, reaching the finals his sophomore year before losing in the championship match to San Clemente High School in 1976. In his senior year Kiraly's high school team went undefeated, winning CIF SS by defeating Laguna Beach High School in the title game in 1978, and Kiraly was voted Sectional Player of the Year.[2] During his high school years, Kiraly was invited to join the Junior National Team, on which he competed for three years. Kiraly has credited his high school coach, Rick Olmstead, for teaching him the value of hard work and dedication.

College career

In 1978 Kiraly enrolled at UCLA, where he majored in biochemistry. From his freshman year, he played outside hitter and setter on the Bruins' volleyball team, playing opposite junior Sinjin Smith in the Bruins' 6-2 offense. Under head coach Al Scates, Kiraly led UCLA to the NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship in his freshman season in 1979. In his sophomore season, the Bruins made it to the finals again, but lost to crosstown rivals USC. UCLA reclaimed the top spot in Kiraly's junior season. Kiraly finished his college career with another title during his senior year. In his four years, the Bruins compiled a 123-5 match record, with titles in 1979, 1981 and 1982. They went undefeated in the 1979 and 1982 seasons.[3] Kiraly earned All-American honors all four years,[3] and was awarded NCAA Volleyball Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 1981 and 1982.[4]

Kiraly graduated cum laude in June 1983, with a 3.34 cumulative GPA while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry.[3] In 1992, Kiraly was inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame and had his jersey retired.

United States national team

Kiraly joined the national team in 1981.[5] Playing outside hitter, he proved to be an extremely solid passer. Along with teammate Aldis Berzins, Kiraly was the foundation for the "two-man" serve reception system created by Doug Beal in 1983.[6] Besides covering half the court on serve receive and consistently delivering the ball to team setter Dusty Dvorak, Kiraly was an excellent defender and an outstanding outside hitter. The Kiraly led U.S National Team won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics, overcoming a pool play loss to Brazil, and then defeated them in the finals. Kiraly was the youngest player on the gold medal team.

The 1984 Olympics had been marred by the boycott of the Soviet and eastern bloc teams. The US National team showed their place as the world's best team by winning the 1985 FIVB World Cup, followed by the 1986 FIVB World Championship. In the 1988 Summer Olympics the team won its second Olympic gold medal, this time defeating the USSR in the championship match. Kiraly was selected as a captain for the 1988 team at Seoul. FIVB named Kiraly the top player in the world in 1986 and 1988.[7]

Following the 1988 Olympics, Kiraly retired from the national team. He and teammate Steve Timmons played professional volleyball for Il Messaggero Ravenna in Italy from 1990 to 1992. The team included Italians Fabio Vullo and Andrea Gardini, Roberto Masciarelli and Stefano Margutti as team members. In two seasons the team won a series of titles, including the Italian Volleyball League (1991), the Italian Cup (1991), FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship (1991), CEV Champions League (1992), and the European Supercup (1992).

Career in beach volleyball

Kiraly had a long career on the professional beach circuit and is the 'winningest' player in the history of the sport. He won at least one tournament in 24 of the 28 seasons he played in a career that spanned four decades. He claimed titles with 13 partners, and in domestic events he made it to the semifinals over 80% of the time. Kiraly competed into his mid-40s.

Kiraly played in his first beach tournament at age 11 as his father's partner. Kiraly has said as an 11-year-old he was thrilled to discover in beach volleyball he could compete with grown men on even terms. He earned his A and AA rating on the beach at the age of 15 and his AAA rating at 17. In the early 1980s Kiraly made a successful beach team pairing with UCLA teammate Sinjin Smith. The partnership split up as Kiraly came to focus on the U.S National Team.

In 1992 Kiraly left his indoor career behind, returning to the U.S. to play beach volleyball full-time on the AVP tour. Kiraly chose Kent Steffes as his doubles partner. Steffes was a talented youngster who had left UCLA early to start playing on the professional beach tour. Kiraly and Steffes soon became the dominant pairing on the tour, supplanting former teammate and doubles partner Smith and his partner Randy Stoklos as the beach's top team. In 1996 Kiraly returned to the Olympics, this time competing in beach volleyball with his partner, Steffes. Kiraly and Steffes won the gold medal, the first ever awarded for men's beach volleyball.

Even late in his career, Kiraly continued to win tournaments, recording two AVP tournament victories with his partner Brent Doble in 2002 and 2003, and four more with Mike Lambert in 2004 and 2005. Kiraly's last victory came in August 2005, when he and Lambert won at Huntington Beach. In 2006, Kiraly partnered with Larry Witt, and in 2007 partnered with Kevin Wong. His teams continued to make high placings. Over his career on the beach, Kiraly won over $3 million in prize money, and earned considerably more in endorsements. Kiraly retired from the AVP tour after the 2007 season.[8]

Ultimately Kiraly won 148 professional beach volleyball titles, 110 of them with Steffes.[5] The next closest player in total wins is Sinjin Smith at 139. Following Smith is his longtime partner, Randy Stoklos, at 122. The next closest player behind these four from the top two teams is Emanuel Rego, with 78 total wins.


Kiraly has worked as a broadcaster for ESPN, and provided color commentary for the AVP on NBC broadcasts. Kiraly worked as an analyst for NBC Sports during their coverage of the beach volleyball competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics.[9]

Coaching career

Kiraly began coaching at St. Margaret's Episcopal High School, where he took the opportunity to coach his sons, Kristian and Kory.[1]

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon of the US National Women's Volleyball team hired Kiraly as assistant, where he helped coach the team to a Silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

In 2012 Kiraly was named head coach of the US National Women's Volleyball team to try to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[10] In October 2014 Kiraly coached the Women's National Team to the FIVB World Championship, defeating China in the Gold Medal final. In doing so Kiraly became the fourth person to win a World Championship gold medal as both a player and a coach.[11]

Personal life

Kiraly is the head coach of the US National Women's Volleyball team. He resides in San Clemente, California, with his wife Janna and two sons, Kristian and Kory. His father, Laszlo Kiraly, played for the Hungarian junior national volleyball team.[12] Kiraly studied biochemistry in college, and considered pursuing a career in medicine after completing college.[1]

The nickname "Karch" is derived from the Hungarian word "Karcsi" (pronounced "KAR-chee"), which can be translated as "Charlie". It is a common derivative of Karoly, which is the Hungarian equivalent of "Charles". His last name, Kiraly, means "King" in Hungarian.

Kiraly babysat Misty May-Treanor when she was a youngster.[13]

Awards and honors


  • All American (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982)
  • NCAA Volleyball Tournament Most Outstanding Player (1981, 1982)
  • UCLA Hall of Fame (inducted 1992)

Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB: International Federation of Volleyball)

  • FIVB Best Player in the World (1986, 1988)
  • FIVB Best Player of the 20th Century [14]

American Volleyball Professionals (AVP Professional Beach Volleyball)

  • AVP Best Offensive Player (1990, 1993, 1994)
  • AVP Best Defensive Player (2002)
  • AVP Comeback Player of the Year (1997)
  • AVP Most Valuable Player (1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998)
  • AVP Sportsman of the Year (1995, 1997, 1998)
  • AVP Outstanding Achievement Award (2004)

Volleyball Hall of Fame inducted 2001.

Kiraly has been named as one of 2009's inductees into the College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA) Academic All-America Hall of Fame.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Price, Shawn (6 May 2007). "Digging life, on and off sand". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Itagaki, Michael (25 April 1995). "The Turning Point: Since Mid-'70s Laguna Beach Has Ruled Boys' Volleyball". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Karch Kiraly at AVP.COM". Retrieved 2008-08-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame". CBS Interactive. Retrieved on 2009-07-07
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kelli Anderson (September 25, 2007). "Let Us Now Praise Karch Kiraly". Sports Illustrated.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Doug Beal named CEO of USA Volleyball". USA Volleyball. 2004-11-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Karch Kiraly bio". USA Volleyball.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Moore, David Leon (9/1/2007)."For volleyball legend Kiraly, one last day at the beach". USA Today. Retrieved on 2009-07-07
  9. Frager, Ray (07/2008). "Medium Well: Your NBC Olympics lineup". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved on 2009-07-07
  10. http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2012/September/11/Karch-Kiraly.aspx
  11. Snyder, Charlie (12 October 2014). "VICTORY! U.S. Women Win First World Championship". USA Volleyball.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Karch Kiraly". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-08-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Jane Barrett (2008-07-24). "U.S. golden girls appear unstoppable". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-08-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. http://www.fivb.org/EN/volleyball/Competitions/WorldChampionships/2010/Women/viewPressRelease.asp?No=26839
  15. "The NCAA News: The Record". National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). May 11, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-07-07

External links

Preceded by
New Zealand Hugh McCutcheon
United States women's national volleyball team coach
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Par J. Arvidsson
Rowdy Gaines
Oliver Luck
Kenneth W. Sims
Lynette Woodard
NCAA Top Five Award
Class of 1983
Bruce Baumgartner
John Elway
Richard J. Giusto
Charles F. Kiraly
David R. Rimington
Succeeded by
John E. Frank
Beth Heiden
Terrell L. Hoage
Stefan G. Humphries
Steve Young