“They do have a couple advantages to help them out,” admits Kiraly. “With a league at home, they can get coached in more similar philosophy to what they get coached for their national team. And they also have a lot of continuity, as they have had the same coach now for three Olympic cycles.”
The only way to combat this is to grow the sport in U.S., and he thinks there is much to be gleaned from our fervor for it here in the Islands.
“We need to study places like Hawaii and Nebraska and learn,” says Kiraly, speaking of the two hottest places in the U.S. for volleyball. “Doing lots of clinics and free things to get kids involved in the game, like we are doing with this clinic, will help. The teams give a lot back to the community, and the community appreciates it.”
The two teams play a pair of games in California, one at UC-Irvine and one at USC, before heading over here for a two-match set. Kiraly believes the two games here, with our raucous crowds and knowledgeable fans, will be a great way to simulate what they will experience in 2016 in Rio.
“We are excited to get to play in one of the most volleyball-passionate and savvy places in the nation, if not in the world,” says Kiraly. “Hawaii loves their volleyball; they know so much about the game. I think there will be a lot for them to appreciate as we bring world No. 2 USA against world No. 1 Brazil.”
If the event is a success, they hope to bring out the men’s team next year and hopefully turn it into an annual contest.
This will be a unique chance for the people of Hawaii to see the two best squads in the world, and a preview of the expected Olympic final in 24 months.
While he will enjoy having these matches on American soil, the thought of taking back the gold on Brazil’s home court makes it all the sweeter for Kiraly.
“I think it is great that the next Olympics are going to be in Brazil. It will be the best volleyball Olympics ever because volleyball is held in such high regard and followed with such passion there,” says Kiraly.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the fact that they have a lot going for them, and we relish the adversity and challenge of what any team faces — first of all, qualifying, and second of all, knowing if one aspires, as we do, to win an Olympic Games, that we will have to go through the Brazilians on their home court. I can’t imagine a better place to do that.”