Pali High Trio Powers USA Volleyball to Glory at 1984 Olympics
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
It is almost unheard of for three players on one Olympic team to hail from the same high school, but that happened at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles when three Palisades High alums—Steve Salmons, Dave Saunders and Chris Marlowe—guided the USA men’s volleyball squad to the gold medal.
All three Dolphins played for legendary coach Howard Enstedt, who piloted the Pali High program to nine City titles from 1974-93. All three of their numbers are retired in the Dolphins’ gym.
Saunders not only won City for Palisades, he was a key piece of three NCAA title teams (‘79, ‘81, ‘82) at UCLA and twice was an All-American as the primary passer and starting outside hitter. After helping the ‘84 Olympic team win gold he was a member of the 1988 gold medal squad in Seoul. He also represented the USA in the 1983 and 1987 Pan American Games. He ended his international career in Italy before retiring and going into the radio business.
Salmons, who graduated in 1977, was voted City Player of the Year after leading the Dolphins to the first Southern California Regional Championship. He was named NCAA Player of the Year in 1979 as UCLA became the first unbeaten team in college volleyball history. After sitting out almost his whole 1981 senior season due to a back injury suffered at the Pan American Games, he came back for the postseason and led the Bruins to another NCAA crown. He was key member of the national Team from 1978-86 and helped the USA win the volleyball “triple crown” with gold medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, 1985 World Cup in Japan and 1986 World Championships in France. He will be inducted into the City Section Hall of Fame in October.
Marlowe not only won three City volleyball titles at Palisades, he also powered the Dolphins to the boys basketball championship in 1969. He led San Diego State to the NCAA volleyball title in 1973.
In the 1984 gold medal match at Long Beach Arena, the Americans avenged their only defeat by sweeping Brazil, 15-6, 15-6, 15-7, in the old side-out scoring format.
Rounding out the ‘84 Olympic roster were Paul Sunderland, who starred in football and basketball at Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks before switching to volleyball and becoming an All-American at Loyola Marymount; former Ohio State University standouts Marc Waldie, Aldis Berzins and Rich Duwelius; Craig Buck, who was an All-City middle blocker at Taft High in 1975 and 1976 and became an All-American at Pepperdine; Steve Timmons, a volleyball and basketball star at Newport Harbor High before helping USC win the NCAA volleyball title in 1980; Santa Barbara High grad Karch Kiraly, who won CIF Player of the Year honors as a senior and went on to lead UCLA to three NCAA titles in four years, and becoming one of the most successful players on the AVP Tour; Dusty Dvorak of Laguna Beach, who led USC to NCAA crowns in 1977 and 1980; and Pat Powers, who prepped at Santa Monica High and led Santa Monica College to the 1977 Junior College state title before capturing the 1980 NCAA title with USC.
Pali High has produced two other Olympians: Ricci Luyties (Class of ‘80), who played alongside Kiraly and Timmons to win indoor gold in Seoul; and Kent Steffes (Class of ‘86), who partnered with Kiraly to win the beach volleyball competition in Atlanta in 1996.
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