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Longtime Olympic volleyball coach Marv Dunphy announces retirement

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Longtime U.S. volleyball coach Marv Dunphy announced his retirement Monday after working at seven Olympics in various capacities.

“I’ve decided that it’s time,” Dunphy said in a press release. “It’s just time, and there’s not a lot more to it than that.”

Dunphy was named head coach of the U.S. men’s volleyball team after the 1984 Games. He guided the U.S. to its first world championship in 1986, as well as the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics.

He was involved with the U.S. national team at every Olympics since then, with the exception of the 1992 Games. He was either an assistant or consultant coach with the U.S. men in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 (winning gold in 2008), and a consulting or scouting coach with the U.S. women in 2012 and 2016 (winning silver in 2012 and bronze in 2016).

“Marv Dunphy championed one of the most successful runs in USA Volleyball’s Olympic history as head coach,” said Lori Okimura, the current chair of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors. “As much as Marv has accomplished on the court, he has done so much more off the court. His influence as a teacher, mentor and friend to many has shaped the character of generations of men and women in our sport who continue to give back.”

Dunphy modeled his coaching style after longtime UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. When he earned his doctorate from Brigham Young University, his dissertation was titled, ”John Robert Wooden: The Coaching Process.”

“Individuals never lose their desire to be treated as individuals,” Dunphy told this reporter in 2009. “When I need to teach them stuff as a group or a team it gets done, but I think the players learn the most on a one-to-one basis.”

When he was not with the U.S. national team, Dunphy served as the men’s head coach at Pepperdine University. He led the Waves to four NCAA titles and more than 600 wins. 11 of his former player competed in either indoor or beach volleyball at the Olympics, earning seven gold and two bronze medals. A Pepperdine alum has played volleyball at every Olympics since the 1992 Games.

Dunphy has been inducted into a long list of Halls of Fame: International Volleyball Hall of Fame (1994), the AVCA Hall of Fame (2009), the Pepperdine University Athletics Hall of Fame (2010) and the Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame (2017).

He spent 34 years as the head coach at Pepperdine, which was named the No. 2 most beautiful college campus by Princeton Review in 2014.

He turned down opportunities to leave the Malibu, Calif. campus, telling the Los Angeles Times in 1985:

“People used to ask me, ‘Marv, you’ve done well here. Are you ready to move on to a name school, a name athletic department?’

“But they weren’t sitting in my office. They weren’t looking out over the ocean. I tell ya, there’s not a better place to work.”

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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