College greats named finalists for SoCal Volleyball Hall of Fame

College men’s volleyball players and coaches were well represented among the finalists being considered for the newest volleyball hall of fame.

The Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that 27 individuals were selected as finalists for the organization’s second class of hall of fame inductees.

Among the finalists included 12 players with college men’s volleyball ties — Dain Blanton, Burt DeGroot, Scott Fortune, Mick Haley, Brent Hilliard, Kirk Kilgour, Duncan McFarland, Pat Powers, Larry Rundle, Steve Salmons, John Speraw and Ernie Suwara. 

Of all the finalists, 15 individuals will be selected for this year’s hall of fame class. This unveiling of the finalists also comes months after the SCIVBHOF inducted its inaugural class.

“The committee had a very demanding job of pairing almost 100 nominations down to a final 27 to eventually select 15 worthy candidates by January for the SCIVBHOF honor on May 6,” Mike Gallups, president of the SCIVBHOF, said in a statement. “There is tremendous talent among the 27 from outstanding college and international coaches to top men’s and women’s players, who have had distinguished college and international careers.” 

Blanton helped lead Pepperdine to the 1992 NCAA championship and continues to hold the school’s career record with a 2.30 digs per game average. The all-conference outside attacker following his college career represented the United States in beach volleyball at the 2000 Olympics.

DeGroot spent two seasons as the Pepperdine head coach and in 1974 led the Waves to their second non-losing record in program history along with a victory at the Western Selection Tournament. Before his time at Pepperdine, DeGrott while in the military won five U.S. Air Force Worldwide titles from 1953-60 and then coached Santa Monica College to four consecutive USAVB college national championships from 1961-64.

Fortune was a two-time All-American and helped lead Stanford to the NCAA Tournament finals for the first time in program history. Along with playing for the United States in two Olympics, Fortune remains the Cardinal career leader with 976 digs during the sideout scoring era and is in the school’s top 10 with 1,409 career kills.

Haley coached the USC women’s volleyball to back-to-back NCAA championsips. However, Haley as a player helped lead Ball State to back-to-back MIVA championships in the 1960s and served as the head coach at Kellog College, which won the 1980 MIVA regular season championship.

Hilliard was named the 1991 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player as he led Long Beach State to its only national championship in program history. The three-time All-American opposite and 1992 National Player of the Year also continues to hold the school record with 3,034 carer kills and is one of two 49ers to have his number retired.

Kilgour was posthumously named a finalist after leading UCLA to the first two NCAA championships and being named the Co-Most Outstanding Player of the 1971 NCAA Tournament. He finished his college career with an 80-5 record and then spent seven seasons playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team before a career-ending spine injury in 1976.

McFarland after a one-year hiatus from college volleyball to train with the U.S. Men’s National Team led San Diego State to the 1973 NCAA championship. He also was named the 1973 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player as San Diego State became the only team besides UCLA to win the national championship in men’s volleyball’s first seven years as a NCAA sanctioned sport.

Powers finished his college career as a two-time All-American and helped lead USC to the NCAA championship in 1980. He also was a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team that won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics before returning to his alma mater as the USC head coach from 1997 to 2002.

Rundle was an All-American for UCLA before men’s volleyball was a NCAA sanctioned sport and was inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame. He also was a starter for the United States at the 1968 Olympics and was a six-time USVBA All-American.

Salmons was a three-time All-American and was named the 1979 National Player of the Year as he led UCLA to finish the season undefeated and win the NCAA championship. In addition, Salmons helped the Bruins win another national title and was a member of the 1984 U.S. Men’s National Team that won an Olympic gold medal.

Speraw guided UC Irvine to three NCAA championships before becoming the head coach of both the U.S. Men’s National Team and UCLA. Along with winning NCAA championships as a player with UCLA in the 1990s, Speraw coached the United States to a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Suwara as an All-American player led UCLA to two USABV national championships and was one of the few volleyball players from the pre-NCAA era to make the Pac-12 All-Century Team. In addition, Suwara despite being the youngest player selected to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the 1964 Olympics was named the team’s most valuable player.

The 2018 hall of fame class will be inducted on May 6, 2018 at the Event Center in Anaheim. The ceremony will take place a day after the NCAA Tournament finals, which UCLA will play host to that year.

2018 finalists for Southern California Indoor Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame
Dain Blanton, Pepperdine
Mike Bright, El Camino Community College
Patti Lucas Bright, USC
Debbie Landreth Brown, USC
Burt DeGroot, Pepperdine and Santa Monica College
Scott Fortune, Stanford
Brian Gimmillaro, Long Beach State
Mick Haley, Ball State
Tayyiba Haneff-Park, Long Beach State
Brent Hilliard, Long Beach State
Flo Hyman, El Camino College and Houston
Kirk Kilgour, UCLA
Ron Lang, USC
Liz Masakayan, UCLA
Nina Matthies, UCLA and Pepperdine
Duncan McFarland, San Diego State
Elaina Oden, Pacific
Beverly Oden, Stanford
Pat Powers, USC
Jeanne Beauprey-Reeves, USC
Larry Rundle, UCLA
Steve Salmons, UCLA
Eric Sato
Liane Sato, UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State
John Speraw, UCLA and UC Irvine
Ernie Suwara, Santa Monica College and UCLA
Sue Woodstra, USC