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.
Whenever there’s a list to be done, this guy tops it. Three-time Olympic gold medalist. The Babe Ruth of the sport.
Two Olympic gold medals to her credit and will be in search of a third right around the corner.
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).
Second in the world all-time in career beach victories (139). Played in a record 416 tournaments.
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.
2008 Olympic beach gold medalist is currently regarded as the most dominant men’s beach player in the world.
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.
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.
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.
A three-time Olympian who was part of U.S. teams that took second in 1984 and third in 1992.
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.
The late Hyman helped the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team win a silver medal on its home soil.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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