Top volleyball players to watch in Rio
U.S. men’s outside hitter Reid Priddy will make his fourth Olympic appearance at the Rio Games. While the veteran player has been a mainstay of the team since his debut at the Athens Games, his career was nearly cut short after sustaining an ACL injury during the 2014 FIVB World League Tournament. Priddy is the second U.S. men’s volleyball player to compete in four consecutive Games and the oldest member of this year’s squad.
Russian volleyball stay Sergey Tetyukhin will make his fifth Olympic appearance in Rio, where he is expected to also serve as the nation’s flag bearer. The 40-year-old outside hitter made his debut at the Atlanta Games where, as a substitute, he played in four preliminary round sets. Tetyukhin announced his retirement from the national team after the London Games but later said he would consider playing in Rio. Should the Russian men make it to the podium, Tetyukhin would be the oldest Olympic volleyball medalist.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sheilla Castro is looking for a third gold -- this time, on home soil. The Brazilian middle blocker is often considered to be the nation’s best volleyball players of all time. Castro was Brazil’s leading scorer at the London Games and the team’s second leading scorer at the 2016 FIVB Grand Prix where the Brazilian women took gold.
Although Kim Hill will make her Olympic debut in Rio, the outside hitter had to be convinced to tryout for the team. Hill was playing collegiate volleyball at Pepperdine University when a teammate's mom called and suggested that Hill attend open tryouts for the U.S. women’s national volleyball team. Hill and her teammate initially declined as they assumed they didn’t have a shot at making the team, however the pair made a last minute decision to travel to open tryouts. Not only did Hill make the team, but coach Karch Kiraly recalls how quickly Hill impressed the coaching staff who considered her to be the MVP of tryouts.