The Top 35 U.S. Players of All Time

Joe Regan
#1 Karch Kiraly

Setting out to name the top 35 players in the history of the sport in the United States is no easy feat, especially when you are talking about a list that combines both beach and indoor accomplishments and men and women alike.

But we did it, thanks to the help of a panel of current and former players and coaches, industry executives, media members and VBM readers.

The results prove the U.S. has a heck of a history when it comes to both indoor and beach volleyball success. You’ll see some all-time great names on the list and some names that are still making their mark in this sport. Of particular note is the meteoric rise of Olympic beach gold medalist Phil Dalhausser. How high will he go the next time one of these lists is compiled?

So without further ado, here is our list of the top 35 U.S. volleyball players of all-time. Also make sure to click through the photo gallery to see some great vintage, and recent, photos of our top 35 selections.

1: KARCH KIRALY

Whenever there’s a list to be done, this guy tops it. Three-time Olympic gold medalist. The Babe Ruth of the sport.

2: MISTY MAY-TREANOR

Two Olympic gold medals to her credit and will be in search of a third right around the corner.

3: KERRI WALSH

Closing in on $2 million in career earnings. One of only two women in the world to have 100 career pro beach victories (May-Treanor is the other).

4: SINJIN SMITH

Second in the world all-time in career beach victories (139). Played in a record 416 tournaments.

5: LOGAN TOM

A standout at Stanford, Tom has gone on to a prosperous professional career, has made three U.S. indoor Olympic appearances, including winning a silver medal in 2008.

6: PHIL DALHAUSSER

2008 Olympic beach gold medalist is currently regarded as the most dominant men’s beach player in the world.

7: HOLLY MCPEAK

One of the all-time greats in women’s pro beach history. A three-time beach Olympian, McPeak won a bronze medal at the 2004 Games.

8: STEVE TIMMONS

Starred at USC and with the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team. Inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998. A two-time Olympic gold medalist and a three-time Olympic medal-winner.

9: RANDY STOKLOS

One of the beach game’s best, Stoklos was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998. He won 122 tournaments on the beach and amassed nearly $1.9 million in career earnings.

10: PAULA WEISHOFF

A three-time Olympian who was part of U.S. teams that took second in 1984 and third in 1992.

11: KENT STEFFES

The controversial Steffes won a beach gold medal with Karch Kiraly at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He walked away from the game with 110 career wins and nearly $2.6 million in career earnings.

12: FLO HYMAN

The late Hyman helped the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team win a silver medal on its home soil.

13: LIZ MASAKAYAN

A UCLA graduate, Masakayan played in the 1988 indoor Olympics for the U.S. and then went on to enjoy a prosperous professional beach career (47 wins).

14: LLOY BALL

One of the greatest in the history of the men’s indoor game, Ball has played in four Olympics for the U.S., helping the 2008 team win the gold medal in Beijing.

15: DANIELLE SCOTT-ARRUDA

Like Ball, Scott-Arruda, an NCAA champion at Long Beach State, has played in four indoor Olympics and was part of the 2008 U.S. women’s team that won a silver medal.

16: ELAINE YOUNGS

Youngs has played in three Olympics for the U.S. She was a member of the 1996 women’s indoor team and then won a bronze medal on the beach in 2004 with Holly McPeak. She finished tied for fifth with Nicole Branagh in 2008.

17: TODD ROGERS

A 2008 beach Olympic gold medalist, Rogers ranks fourth in the world in all-time international wins (22) and is approaching $2 million in career earnings.

18: KAROLYN KIRBY

A 2004 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee, Kirby at one time held the women’s pro beach record for victories (67) until Holly McPeak surpassed her.

19: JEFF STORK

A Pepperdine alum, Stork was a member of both the 2008 and 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic teams that won gold and bronze medals respectively. Played in three Olympics.

20: DEBBIE GREEN

Still considered the best setter in the history of women’s volleyball, Green was a member of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic teams, helping the 1984 team win a silver medal. Trained six All-American setters, including Misty May-Treanor, as an assistant coach at Long Beach State.

21: BOB CTVRTLIK

An NCAA champion at Pepperdine, Ctvrtlik played in three indoor Olympics, helping the U.S. to a gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.

22: RITA CROCKETT

Crockett was another key member of the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team that won the silver medal in Los Angeles. Also was part of the 1980 team that did not compete due to the boycott of the Moscow Olympics. A 1984 Sports Illustrated piece labeled her the world’s best athlete at the time.

23: MIKE DODD

Dodd and partner Mike Whitmarsh won the silver medal in beach at the 2006 Olympics in Atlanta. Finished his beach career with 75 career wins and over $1.75 million in career earnings.

24: PAT POWERS

Powers won an NCAA championship as a player at USC and then won a gold medal as part of the 1984 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team. Went on to enjoy a successful beach career.

25: DUSTY DVORAK

Dvorak was a member of the 1984 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team that won the gold medal. He was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998.

26: CAREN KEMNER

Kemner, who played collegiately at Arizona, was a member of three U.S. Women’s Olympic teams. Kemner helped the 1992 team win a bronze medal in Barcelona.

27: GENE SELZNICK

Selznick is regarded as one of the most dominant indoor players in the history of the game. The FIVB named him one of the top two American players of the 20th century (with Karch Kiraly). A 1988 Volleyball Hall of Fame member, Selznick was a member of the 1960 and 1966 U.S. teams that won world championships.

28: CLAY STANLEY

The son of Hall of Famer Jon Stanley, Clay Stanley has played in two Olympics for the U.S. (2004 and 2008), helping the men win gold in Beijing. The Stanleys are the first father-son U.S. Olympians in USA Volleyball history.

29: RON VON HAGEN

A 1992 inductee into the Volleyball Hall of Fame, Von Hagen played in 54 beach tournaments from 1966 to 1972 and never finished lower than third. He finished his beach career with 62 wins.

30: TARA CROSS-BATTLE

A Long Beach State alum, Cross-Battle played in a record four indoor Olympics for the U.S. (1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004). She helped the 1992 team win a bronze medal.

31: LINDA HANLEY

Hanley ranks ninth all-time in career women’s pro beach wins with 46. Hanley won pro beach titles in four different decades. Played in the 1996 beach Olympics with Barbra Fontana.

32: MARY-JO PEPPLER

Considered one of the all-time greats in women’s volleyball, Peppler was a 1990 inductee into the Volleyball Hall of Fame. A four-time USBVA Open Division MVP. Played in the 1964 indoor Olympics.

33: TIM HOVLAND

After playing at USC, Hovland enjoyed major success on the pro beach circuit. He ranks 10th all-time in the men’s game in career wins with 60 and ranks 14th in career earnings with over $1 million.

34: KATHY GREGORY

A 1989 Volleyball Hall of Fame pick, Gregory ranks seventh all-time in career women’s beach wins with 50. The only coach in the history of the UC-Santa Barbara women’s program, Gregory was a 16-time adult nationals All-American selection.

35: ERIC SATO

From the famed Sato volleyball family, Eric Sato was a member of the 1988 (gold medal) and 1992 (bronze medal) U.S. Men’s Olympic teams.

Originally published in December/January 2012

6 Comments

Nov 19, 2011 at 04:04PM John Harman

Great! I would put Gary Sato above Eric, but that is just because we played at Samohi together. Where is Wilt Chamberlain,? He was a beach partner of mine for awhile!
Unfortunately US Indoor V-ball has fallen in world prominence due to the the "Club System" and it's elimination of minorities. I love the National Sports leaders coined phrase "The World is catching up to us", which is simply not true. When we reduce our pool of talent by not allowing minorities to participate because they cannot afford club dues (plus their are no clubs in the ghettos!) We eliminate a vast amount of potentially great athletes from playing volleyball. Wilt and I used to discuss this fact but trying to change an established system is not easy.

Nov 29, 2011 at 07:44PM Mike

John, you make a great point about minority participation in volleyball. In Illinois, the IHSA rules bar a high school coach (or anyone involved with that HS, from working with more than 3 of his or her own players at a time, during the off season. The players that can afford to, pay $2000-$3500 per year to get club training, while those who cannot, are effectively locked out of the club volleyball system, which is the primary means of getting recruited to the next level. In many cases, and in many locations, the only person who might be able to offer off season training for free is already working with the HS during the HS season, and is therefore precluded from helping provide a lower cost, or free club experience. We complain (or maybe some don't) about lack of minority participation, yet we create rules and regulations that make it impossible for many to even consider playing.

Dec 09, 2011 at 06:34AM Murray MacLeod

Was Ronnie Lang considered? He and Selznick were wonderful beach partners.

Feb 09, 2012 at 04:01PM MyKeia Thomas

I agree John and Mike! I am a volleyball coach at East St Louis Sr High School in Illinois and I also coach a 15's group for H2 in St Louis. The amount of minority participation is extremely low and the quote you priced for participation is spot on! I'm not sure what we can do, but we have some extremely talented players on both of our teams. They just don't get adequate exposure. If anyone has any ideas on what we can do or at least try for the sake of the program; I'm all ears!

Sep 17, 2012 at 12:47PM Andor Gyulai

I think you need to consider Jeff Nygaard -http://www.volleyball1on1.com/jeff-nygaard/ 2 NCAA MVP (First Player in men's NCAA College History to ever receive this honor!), one of the youngest guys to ever play on the national men's indoor team, Olympian 2 indoor, once beach, only Karch has done this for men as far as I know. On top of this he changed the way the sport was played and was the first guys to run the Bic in college. Top 35 Pic!

2003 AVP Most Valuable Player

Apr 05, 2013 at 08:26PM T McCabe

No Bryan Ivie - 2 time POY? No Brent Hilliard - all time NCAA Kill leader??

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