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Why is Karch Kiraly the Greatest Men's Volleyball Hall of Fame Player?

ByGrace White

3 min read

Why is Karch Kiraly the Greatest Men's Volleyball Hall of Fame Player?

The greatest? The greatest at what you may be thinking? Karch Kiraly is the absolute best at the game of volleyball. Mostly known as “Karch” Kiraly, his full name is Charles Frederick. Born November 3, 1960, Kiraly is an American volleyball player, coach and broadcast announcer. According to the FIVB, "The finest volleyball player in the world for the last century," Charles started playing beach volleyball at the age of 6. By the age of 11, he and his father were entering the beach volleyball competitions as partners. Kiraly earned his A and AA rating on the beach at 15 and his AAA rating at 17, during his time on the Junior National Team. He won his first Manhattan Beach Open Title at the age of 19 and went on to win five more in his career.

Kiraly played volleyball for four years at Santa Barbara High School, leading the team to victory at the Southern California Championships after an undefeated season in 1978, and was named MVP. All at the same time, he played on the U.S. Junior National Team, winning the Pacific Rim Tournament in 1978 and 1979 and was named MVP in 1979.

Back in the 1980s he was a huge part of the U.S. National Team that won gold medals both at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. After his double Olympic win, Kiraly went on to play professional volleyball with the Italian leagues from 1990 to 1992. He won the World Club Championship with his team in 1991 and was named MVP.

In 1992, Karch retired to the beach. He had played in beach volleyball tournaments while on the U.S. Men's National Team and was an exceptional player. He had not planned to be a professional volleyball player, however ample opportunities opened up for a player with his great skills with the formation of the AVP.

Karch Kiraly decided not to train for the 1992 Olympic Games, instead choosing to play beach volleyball full time. He experienced incredible success in the AVP, winning 16 Opens in 1992, 18 Opens in 1993, 17 Opens in 1994 , 12 Opens in 1995 and 11 Opens in 1996. In all honesty his most outstanding beach volleyball accomplishment was a gold medal at the inaugural beach competition at the 1996 Olympic Games, this win was the first year the Olympic competitions featured beach volleyball. Kiraly finished off his career with not only three Olympic gold medals, but medals in different arenas of the sport was nothing short of a grand finale.

Overall, Kiraly is known for his volleyball skill and his extremely focused concentration. He plays volleyball with nothing short of a power driven intensity. His competition is fierce but not mean; his ability to shut the world out, legendary. He has an extremely unique ability to make impossible plays that can truly turn a match around. Kiraly is the only player, man or woman, that has won Olympic gold medals in both the outdoor and indoor beach volleyball genres.

More recently Kiraly is currently the head coach of the United States women’s national volleyball team which absolutely was a huge game changer that led them to their first ever winning of a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!

The International Volleyball Hall of Fame is proud to introduce Karch Kiraly into the Volleyball Hall of Fame as the greatest men's volleyball player of the sport's first century.

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