Kiraly guides U.S. women to first world championship gold

Back in May, Karch Kiraly brought the U.S. women’s national volleyball team to City College to begin its preparations for the year’s major tournaments. The work paid off.

Kiraly’s team won the World Championship, beating China 3-1 on Sunday in Milan, Italy. It’s the first world title for the Americans in the 52 years of the tournament.

“Sixty-two years. … The USA was due,” Kiraly roared after the 27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24 victory.

The coaching gold medal adds to Kiraly’s international success as a player. He won Olympic gold medals as a member of the U.S. men’s indoor volleyball teams at the 1984 and ’88 Games and a gold at the 1986 World Championship. He also won beach volleyball gold at the 1996 Olympics.

He became the fourth person to win a World Championship gold medal as both a player and a coach.

Kimberly Hill scored 20 points and captain Christa Dietzen added 15 points to lead the Americans, whose best finishes were silver medals in 1967 and 2002. They also earned silvers at the 1984, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

“We came here to make history and we made it,” Kiraly, a Santa Barbara High alum, told the media. “It was a tough battle, but we made it.”

“It’s the first time for the USA and we made it,” Dietzen said. “We represented present and future volleyball programs, but most importantly we did it together.”

Kiraly added: “I am so proud of these people I work with in this program every day. The 50 athletes who wore a USA uniform this year at some point and all the contributions they made and make on a daily basis. All of our staff, I have an amazing staff and we put it all together. Everybody did an amazing job so we are blessed to have such a quality group of people to work with.”

In Saturday’s semifinals, the U.S. stunned top-ranked Olympic champion Brazil, 3-0.

Brazil beat Italy, 25-15, 25-13, 22-25, 22-25, 15-7, in the bronze-medal match.