Karch Kiraly aiming to make history as U.S. women’s volleyball coach

Avid volleyball fans might already be familiar with Karch Kiraly and his impact on the sport.

But by the time the 2016 Rio Olympics Closing Ceremony comes to an end, Kiraly could be a household name worldwide with another entry in the record book.

If Kiraly — the head coach of the U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team — can carry his squad to a gold medal in Rio, he will become the first person to win gold as both a volleyball player and coach.

Kiraly was an assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team at the 2012 London Olympics, but Rio will be his first Games as a head coach and he enters the Games at the helm of the No. 1 team in the world.

The 55-year-old volleyball legend already has a resume jam-packed with high accolades and accomplishments, including being tabbed as the “Michael Jordan” of volleyball.

Kiraly is the only player to win gold in both indoor and beach volleyball, taking home the first-ever gold in beach volleyball at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

He is the only male volleyball player to win three Olympic gold medals, joining Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the U.S. women’s teams for the active lead in golds among volleyball players.

Kiraly’s road to history won’t be easy, however.

For starters, he and his squad will have to hold off China, whose coach Jenny Lang Ping is also trying to become the first to win gold as both a player and coach. Heading into Rio, China is ranked No. 3 worldwide.

U.S. and China will square off in the preliminary stage of the tournament on Aug. 14 at 4 p.m. (ET).

Team USA and Kiraly will also have to go through Brazil, as the host country (and current No. 2 team in the world) has taken home gold in each of the last two Olympics and now will be playing with a home court advantage.

Kiraly has experience playing in Rio dating back to his days in the Junior World Championships in 1977 and knows the tough task awaiting his team.

“I’d like nothing more than to battle for a gold medal there,” Kiraly told NBC Olympics. “I know anybody who is going to do that is going to go through the team that has won the last two gold medals, which happens to be Brazil.

“So, Brazil happens to have a lot of things going for it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think that’s the perfect place to try to make history as USA.”

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