Curitiba, Brazil, July 5, 2017 – The United States debuted in the FIVB Volleyball World League Finals – Group 1 with a dramatic 3-2 loss to France
. What impressed, though, was the youth of the American team featuring five starters who were born after 1992, less than a year after their Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal campaign.
A player who represents USA’s new generation is Benjamin Patch. At the age of 23, the opposite has just finished his college career at the Brigham Young University, in Salt Lake City.
Watch: Benjamin Patch interview
“I’ve learned so much, this is such a challenging environment to be playing against some of the best players in the world,” Patch said right after scoring 18 points against the French. “My first year is all about learning and trying to absorb as much as I can. I just finished my college career and it’s so humbling having the opportunity to play against guys like Ngapeth. This is crazy”.
The 2017 World League has actually been a learning experience for the entire USA roster. After three setbacks in the first week, in Novi Sad, Serbia, the team bounced back to collect four wins in six games on their way to the Final Six.
“We are building a new team and they have developed very well,” coach John Speraw commented. “I’m pleased with our growth during the pool play - after the first week, it wasn’t looking very optimistic for us to be here, so for us it’s very exciting to have achieved this comeback and be in the Finals. We want to continue the improvement of these past weeks and we look forward to learn even more as we play against these great teams.”
The United States will have another opportunity to show their resilience on Wednesday (July 5), when they face defending champions Serbia at 17:40 (local time) and need to win to keep their semifinals aspirations alive. For Patch, however, what they show on court will be more important than the match’s final result.
“For us, it’s actually not about winning, it’s about how hard we can work every single moment and every single day,” Patch added. “Whatever the outcome is against Serbia, it will happen, but as long as we work as hard as we can we’ll be able to end the match happy and proud of ourselves.”
Stay tuned for live coverage of Russia v Canada at 17.40 (local time) / 20.40 GMT on Tuesday. Watch all the World League Finals matches on the FIVB's YouTube page