Class of 2016
Active: 1997 - 2010
51 Open Victories
Elaine Youngs is among the greatest athletes to play the sport of volleyball, male or female, beach or indoor. She is one of only a handful of athletes to play in both the indoor and beach Olympics and brought an intensity and burning desire to win virtually unmatched in the history of the sport.
Elaine, or “EY” as she was known on tour, started as a two-sport star at El Toro high school. She played both basketball and volleyball at UCLA before focusing solely on volleyball, where she was a four-time NCAA All-American, leading the Bruins to the 1991 National Championship. After college, she starred on the National Team, representing the U.S. in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
After transitioning to the sand, it only took Elaine a season or two to establish herself as one of the dominant players in the game, winning her first professional tournament in 1999 with Liz Masakayan. She would go on to win tournaments with Nancy Reno and Barb Fontana before forming one of the sport’s legendary partnerships when she teamed with Holly McPeak.
With Young’s dominant blocking and McPeak’s defense, the two had one of the best seasons in history when they won nine tournaments in 2002 on both the domestic and FIVB tours. That season, Youngs was named the AVP’s best blocker, best offensive player, and player of the year.
In 2004, Elaine and Holly won the first ever U.S. medal in women’s beach volleyball, taking home the bronze in Athens. After parting ways with Holly, EY would win five tournaments with Rachel Scott and, in 2008 become a three-time Olympian when she again represented the U.S. in Beijing with partner Nicole Branagh.
To call EY competitive is to do a disservice to the intensity she brought to the game. A sportswriter one wrote, “She’s mean, she’s aggressive, she talks a lot, she’s cocky. Football would really be the best sport for her.” In her chosen sport, volleyball, EY never, ever backed down. When a young rival named Kerri Walsh began challenging as the best net player in the game, EY rose to the challenge, producing one of the great rivalries the sport has known.
By the time Elaine retired in 2010, she had collected 51 victories and over $1.7 million in prize money. She won on the biggest stages, including Manhattan three time and right here in Hermosa five times.
Her ability was never in question. Her desire to compete has never been in question. And her place in the Hall of Fame is now never in question.