Clay Stanley works to reach the top of the game

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

BEIJING (KHNL) - The USA men's volleyball team still has one more match in pool play, but it's already qualified for the quarterfinals by going a perfect 4-0 so far. Much of that success can be attributed to their top player -- local boy Clay Stanley.

Clay is the son of two volleyball greats. Dad Jon is an Olympian himself, and in the volleyball Hall of Fame, and mom Sandra Haine played professionally. But even though Clay seemed destined for volleyball greatness, it's something that hasn't come easy.

Clay Stanley wasn't the superstar at the University of Hawaii. In his four years as a Warrior, he was never All American. In fact, his highest honor was all-conference 3rd team.

"Starting out, he was kinda gawky, and awkward," said Jon Stanley. "As he went along, he just learned how to do things."

Clay never played volleyball at Kaiser High -- the school never had a boys team. So his college years served as his learning years. After UH, he played internationally, and got better.

"And got bigger and stronger and now he's just a big strong guy that can hit the ball real hard," said Jon Stanley. "Harder than anybody else and then he's learning the game as he goes along."

Now, he's the American's top gun, the team's go-to guy, and a two-time Olympian.

"Since then, it's just been amazing accomplishment all the way up," said Jon Stanley. "He's just gotten better and better, and just keeps surprising me. Keep amazing me."

"Real proud of him and what he's done. and he's done it on his own."

And Dad knows the continued success of the USA volleyball team rests of the wings of the guy we knew as the condor.

"Puts a lot more pressure on him, but that's what brings out the best in an athlete," said Jon Stanley. "To have that kind of pressure, so we're just hoping it turns out well."

Jon stanley says clay has a good 6 to 8 more years of playing volleyball, as long as he stays healthy. And he says Clay still has the potential to get a lot better, which is scary news for the other teams.