Born: August 24, 1958 in Los Angeles, California (United States
Country: United States
Category: Male Indoor Player
At 6’9”, Craig Buck stood out even before he stepped onto the volleyball court. But watching him play, he often seemed bigger than life, as he dominated net play both offensively and defensively. He is considered by many to be the best middle blocker of all time.
Buck started playing volleyball at Taft High School and received first team All-Los Angeles City honors in 1975. A member of the U.S. Junior National Team from 1976 to 1979, Buck gained recognition across the continent, and was named Most Valuable Player at the AAU National Championships and the U.S. Junior Nationals in 1978.
A highly prized recruit at Pepperdine University, Buck played for a Hall of Fame coach Marv Dunphy, and led the Waves to the regional finals in his freshman year, earning All-American honors in 1980 and 1981.
In 1981, the United States opened the National Training Center in San Diego. With the addition of Craig Buck to the National Team, the United States assembled one of the greatest volleyball teams of all time and in 1984 the U.S. not only returned to the Olympic arena in Los Angeles, they struck gold, igniting volleyball fever across the country.
The U.S. team’s stars were still on the rise in 1985, and Buck was reunited with an old friend, as Marv Dunphy became the new U.S. team coach. This combination played a big part in the U.S. Team’s capture of volleyball’s “Triple Crown”: the 1984 Olympic gold medal and gold medals in the 1985 World Cup and the 1986 World Championships.
With Buck at the net, the United States successfully defended their Olympic title in 1988, winning the gold medal in Seoul, Korea. Dunphy’s assessment of Buck was high praise, saying, “Craig is the best to have ever played his position. He set the table for what everyone is doing now and far as read blocking is concerned. He could take over matches. When we needed him to be great, he was great.”
Highly respected as one of the world’s best quick attackers, Buck was named most valuable player at the 1985 USA Cup, All-tournament selection at the 1986 World Championships, and MVP of the 1987 Savin Cup. And while he was best known for his physical play at the net, Buck was extremely agile for a big man and was underrated as a player in the backcourt. He led the U.S. Team in serving percentage in the 1984 Olympics, recording a team high 6 aces, and earned Best Server as well as All-World honors at the 1986 World Championships.
Among his many other credits, Buck was named the 1990 Male Volleyball player of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee, and was a three-time All-American at the USA Nationals, earning MVP honors in 1987. Overseas, Buck played professionally in France and Italy from 1988 to 1991, and was named an Italian League All-Star in 1991 before jetting off to Japan and the Panasonic Team.
Buck’s final volleyball competition game came on the Pro Four-Man Tour from 1991 to 1997, where he earned All-League honors for six years, and was named MVP in 1996.