Aug. 18, 2007
BANGKOK, Thailand - The U.S. Men's Volleyball Team cruised to a 3-0 win vs. Italy to claim the bronze medal at the 2007 Summer World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday. Italy only led for three points in the entire match as Team USA won 25-15, 25-22, 25-16, finishing 7-1 in the tournament.
"We have a lot of respect for Italian volleyball, and we knew we were going to have to play well to beat them," said U.S. head coach Alan Knipe. "Once we got out to a really good start, and we were playing that well, it was hard for them to get going. The other thing I like about today's match is that we didn't ease up, we didn't let them back in, and that shows some nice maturity and experience kicking in as the tournament went on. These guys are really happy with the fact that they got a medal."
The U.S. set out to a 3-0 lead to start the first set and never allowed Italy to take advantage. Former UC Santa Barbara standout Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.), the school's all-time leader in service aces, recorded four consecutive aces in the first to secure the 25-15 win.
In the second set, Italy had an early 5-3 lead when the U.S. tied the score at 5-5 and took the control of the remainder of the game. Team USA won the second 25-22, and led by as many as 11 points in the third set, winning 25-16.
"We know we're a really good team, and we could very easily be competing for the gold right now," said Patak. "But, getting a medal at these games is great - bronze, silver, gold - whatever color, it is a great accomplishment and we're proud of it. We had a great run, this is a great group of guys, and it was a lot of fun."
Patak led the squad with 14 points on 10 kills, and four aces. Robert Tarr (Long Beach State) added nine points on six kills, two blocks, and an ace. Tarr and David Smith (UC Irvine) shared the team lead in blocks with two.
"We got to the medal round and we lost to a really good team in the semis. The thing that I'm most proud of is the guys didn't hang their head about that. They responded like they did the whole tournament and we played our best match today," said Knipe.
Team USA finished 7-1 overall. The team's lone loss came against Turkey, which went on to claim the gold medal with a 3-1 win over Canada. The U.S. recorded wins vs. Germany (3-0), Sweden (3-0), Japan (3-1), Poland (3-2), and Chinese Taipei (3-0) to move undefeated through pool play. The squad won 3-2 vs. the Ukraine in the quarterfinals before falling to Turkey (0-3) in the semis.
Patak helped lead the U.S. to a bronze medal at the 2003 World University Games as well.
The 2007 Summer World University Games run from August 8-18. Team USA consists of 144 athletes - 68 women and 76 men. Overall, more than 140 countries are participating, and nearly 8,000 athletes competing. The World University Games or Universiade, which include both summer and winter versions, are held every two years for student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 28. Eligible athletes must be registered for a full course of study at a university or have obtained their degrees within a year of the Games. The World University Games, sponsored by FISU, the International University Sport Federation, bring together top collegiate athletes from around the world for 11 days of competition in a multi-sport Olympic-style event. The U.S. entered the Summer World University Games for the first time in 1965 and hosted the 1993 Games in Buffalo, N.Y.