The International Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts inducted 5 new members into the class of 2017 on Saturday in the city where the sport was born. For the first time since 2010, there will be no members of the class from the United States – the country that invented the game (at the Holyoke YMCA).
Class of 2017 Inductees:
- Anders Kristiansson – Swedish Coach
- Ronald Zwerver – Netherlands Indoor Player
- Jose Loiola – Brazilian Beach Volleyball Player
- Irina Kirilova – Russian Indoor Player
- Jizhong Wei – Chinese Leader
The ceremony was MC’ed by U.S. Olympian Kevin Barnett.
While there were no Americans in the class, coach Anders Kristiansson became the first Swede (or more broadly Scandanavian) ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Kristiansson was the coach of Swedish National Team from 1976-1996, leading them to a 7th-place finish at the Olympics in 1988 and winning European silver in 1989. That was the Swedish men’s only Olympic appearance and the silver is their only podium finish at a top-flight international competition (they won bronze in 2017 at the European League). His pursuits as national team coach dovetailed into a legendary record in the domestic league – he won 14 Swedish titles as the coach of the Lidingö SK men’s team, and another 12 with Sollentuna VK’s women’s team.
He’s also served as a coach for Slympiakos in Greece and is currently the coach of Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza in Japan.
Ronald Zwerver was a part of 3 consecutive Dutch Olympic teams in 1988, 1992, and 1996. After finishing 5th in 1988, they jumped to a silver medal in 1992 and finally gold in 1996. Zwerver was named the Best Server of the 1992 Olympic tournament, and was named the Best Spiker of back-to-back World Leagues in 1990 and 1991, and then again at the 1994 World Championships where the Dutch took silver. He currently serves as an assistant coach in the United States at Oregon State University.
Jose Loiola is a legendary beach volleyball player who was named AVP Offensive Player of the Year an unprecedented 4 times in his career. He was also the first player to win Rookie of the Year (1993) and go on to be named MVP (1997) of that tour later in his career, and with partner Eduardo Bacil in 1995 became the first foreign-born champions on the AVP tour. He and Emanuel Rego were FIVB Tour Champions in 1999 and were named by the FIVB as one of the two best Beach Volleyball Teams of the 1990s.
In 2014, he was inducted into the Brazilian (CBVA) Beach Volleyball hall of Fame. He won 35 times in his career on the AVP Tour and another 20 times on fhte FIVB tour, amassing over $1.8 million in tournament winnings according to bvbinfo.com. That makes him the 8th most-prosperous men’s beach player in history.
Irina Kiriilova won an Olympic gold medal indoors playing for the last team of the Soviet Union at the 1988 Olympics. She also won a World Championship for the Soviets in 1990, and a pair of Euroepan Championships in 1989 and 1991. After the dissolution of the USSR, she represented Croatia internationally in the 1990s. With Croatia, she won silver medals at the 1995 and 1997 European Championships. She was named the Best Volleyball Player in the World in 1990.
After the conclusion of her playing career, she spent a short time as an assistant for the Russian National Team and later for the Croatian National Team.
And finally, one administrator, Jizhong Wei of China, has been inducted. In 2008, Wei became the 3rd president in the history of FIVB, the international governing body of volleyball, a position he held until 2012 when he handed off to current president Ary Graca. He has also been a member of the Olympic Councils of Asia (OCA) since 1991, and holds several honorary titles – including Honorary Life President of FIVB, Honorary Life Vice-President, OCA. He still serves as the chairman of the OCA Ethics Committee and is a member of the Coordination Committee.