US men’s beach volleyball and indoor team looking for Olympic victories

Casey Patterson of Team USA dives for the ball at the U.S. Men's Beach Volleyball game against Spain at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Casey Patterson of Team USA dives for the ball at the U.S. Men’s Beach Volleyball game against Spain at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Even on his day off, USA Men’s volleyball beach player Casey Patterson surrounds himself with one of the most popular sports in Rio de Janeiro.

Away from his usual location on Copacabana Beach, Patterson went to Maracanãzinho Stadium to watch the US Men’s indoor team play. While Patterson sat in the stands, watching Italy win 3- 1, it reminded him all too well of his 2-0 loss against Austria the previous day.

“Against Austria we had a situation similar to this match. We had some opportunities to win and take control, and we didn’t capitalize on it,” Patterson said.

Even with Aaron Russell leading the way with 22 points on 19 kills, the US Men were unable to pull out a victory against the Italians, and on top of three, two-point set losses, the US Men have zero points in pool play.

But US Men’s Volleyball Coach John Speraw is pleased with his team’s performance after its 3- 0 against Canada on Sunday.

“They were way better tonight [than against Canada on Sunday]. I thought we were close,” Speraw said in a post-match interview. “This is our journey. It is what it is. This is the team. This is what we signed up for. We knew what we were getting into four years ago, and here we are. It’s a tough journey.”

While there are still matches to be played, both the indoor and beach duo of Patterson and Jake Gibb will need to win in order to make their respective tournaments.

Patterson and Gibb are 1-1 with one match of pool play remaining, while the men’s indoor team is 0-2 in pool play. Patterson and Gibb finish competition against the Spanish duo of Adrian Collado Gavira and Pablo Herrera Allepuz. Each of the four teams in Pool F — Austria, United States, Spain and Qatar — have three total points, making tomorrow’s matchup the most important one of the beach tournament so far.

With a win, they will automatically advance to the round-of-16 tournament, but with a loss, they risk being eliminated from the tournament altogether.

Patterson isn’t concerned, however, for himself or for the US Men’s indoor team.

“If you’re going to lose matches, these are the times to lose them and save all of the big wins and clutch times for the playoffs,” Patterson said. “It’s the same situation with any sport — you lose and everyone gets so worried. They’ll be fine.”

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This is much like the Men’s Indoor team, which needs to finish in the top four of its six-team pool to advance to the eight-team tournament. Right now, they are 0-2, sitting outside of the top four with the only other winless Pool A team: Mexico.

After the Italy match, US Men’s Setter Micah Christenson was also positive.

“I’m proud of the way we fought and the way we played. We’re going to keep getting better,” he said. “I think the other night was an anomaly. We’re a pretty good serving team, and we rely on our serve-and-block defense. I thought we did a good job of that.”

Much like eight of the players on the 12-man indoor team, Patterson has never competed in an Olympic Games. But he came to learn from the indoor veterans, who know what it takes to win a gold medal.

“I’m just trying to soak up the Olympics and get inspired by these indoor guys and watch how they play under pressure,” Patterson said. “To learn from the guys who have won gold medals. David Lee — he’s a guy who has been amazing, and it is still amazing.

“Reid Priddy is back and he brings a ton of experience, and he’s a guy who’s going to help these young guys through this situation.”

Patterson and Gibb will finish off their pool play Wednesday against Spain at 10 a.m. EST, and the US Men’s Indoor will play host country Brazil at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Robby General is a Ball State University student and writer for BSU at the Games, a group of 50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them at bsuatthegames.com, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook.

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Robby General

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