COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 15, 2017) – A new Olympic quadrennial brings new players into the spotlight for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it looks forward to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Opposite Ben Patch (Provo, Utah) has been in the USA Volleyball pipeline since he made the U.S. Youth National Team in 2011. In 2012, he was named the MVP of the NORCECA Men’s Under-21 Continental Championships as his team took the gold medal. In his freshman season at BYU in 2013, he was named the AVCA Newcomer of the Year and First Team All-American.
In 2013, Patch went on a Latter Day Saints (LDS) mission to Columbus, Ohio. He returned early in 2015 and that summer, played on the U.S. Pan American Games and Pan American Cup teams.
In 2017, he is playing his junior season for BYU. He has also taken up photography.
Q: What were your thoughts as you watched the 2016 Olympic tournament?
A: Watching people you love compete for something you know they have worked so hard for is moving. Watching guys my age like Thomas Jaeschke or Aaron Russell or past collegiate teammates – Taylor Sander – really made the games for meaningful for me. I know them and their hearts and the type of people they are, so seeing them achieve something amazing was awesome. One major thought for me was, I’m going to work my butt off to be at the next Games. It’s an honor to train with Team USA but the more incredible feeling is standing next to your brothers while the national anthem is being played before a game. That’s where I want to be.
Q: How are you feeling about your progress as an opposite since you returned to playing after your mission?
A: I think transitioning back from my LDS mission wasn’t very hard physically, but really difficult mentally. I think the raw aggressive attitude was somewhat lost due to the dynamic of an LDS mission; so trying to find that and recapture some of those more aggressive attitudes is something I continue to work on. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better in terms of skill. I’m nowhere near where I hope to be, but I feel like I have more control of my body and see the game just a little bit better. I’m sure that all comes with age and more experience, but I feel and see the progression. Progress is a life thing and I just hope I keep being present in what I can improve on and move forward.
Q: What are you enjoying about playing for BYU this season? What have some of the challenges been?
A: I’m really enjoying my change in mindset. I think my first season back from my LDS mission, I really imposed a lot of pressure on myself to be something more than I was. It was a hard mental year last season; but it has completely made me aware of what I am and can be. I really enjoy volleyball again because I’m just worried about doing my job and not the expectations of others, which is really fun. Recently I got a minor injury that takes a bit to heal so that has been hard to accept and deal with. But I’m learning that these things happen and it’s a very real reality that I could get seriously hurt and end my career. I’m really excited to get back and keep on getting better.
Q: How did you get started with photography and what do you like about it? What are your other interests?
A: Photography is a relatively new thing for me. I’ve been doing it for the past year and really have enjoyed it. I think the biggest thing for me is it gives me an outlet that athletics can’t. I like to think I’m more of a lover and athletics tends to be more brutal, so photography gives me this connection to love and people that I really enjoy. I love that I can travel with photography. I’ve tried to work super hard to attract people from all over the world so that I can travel with or to them to capture their story in a unique way. Other than photography, I just like getting crazy on the dance floor! So if you see me dancing… watch out!
Q: What are you looking forward to in 2017?
A: I am super stoked to play for Team USA this summer. I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity to play for the senior team and get past the inevitable nerves and get even better at a high level. Also, this being my last season as a college athlete, I’m really looking forward to a new experience overseas. I really feel ready to push myself and get to a new level!
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Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) and Azimut Modena made it to the semifinals of the Italian league playoffs, where they will face setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Cucine Lube Civitanova.
After losing their first quarterfinal match to Calzedonia Verona on March 4, Modena came back to win the second match, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 on March 9. Holt scored three point on two kills and one block. On March 12, Modena won the tiebreaker, 25-21, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19. Holt scored seven points on four kills, one block and two aces.
The semifinals begin March 19. In the other semifinal, outside hitter Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) and Sir Safety Conad Perugia will play Diatec Trentino.
In the playoff for the bottom four finishing teams, setter James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.), middle blocker Taylor Averill (San Jose, Calif.) and Kioene Padova defeated Biosi Indexa Sora, 25-21, 25-20, 26-24. Averill scored seven points on four kills and three aces. Shaw did not play. The two teams will play again on March 19. The winner advances to the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket.
Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y), who plays outside hitter for Zenit Kazan, and his team defeated Yugra Samotlor, 25-11, 25-20, 25-17 on March 11. Anderson started the first two sets and substituted in the third, scoring seven points on five kills and two blocks. He was credited with nine receptions, 44 percent positive.
Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) and Lokomotiv Novosibirsk defeated Dinamo Krasnodar, 26-24, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 15-12 on March 11. Erik was credited with 27 receptions, 44 percent positive. Kawika started the first three sets and score two points on two blocks. He helped set Novosibirsk to a .425 hitting efficiency.
Middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.), libero Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.) and Cerrad Czarni Radom fell to Jastrzębski Węgiel, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19 on March 13. Smith scored three points on one kills and two blocks. Watten was credited with 12 receptions, 33 percent positive.
Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) and Asseco Resovia Rzeszów beat BBTS Bielsko-Biała, 25-16, 25-19, 25-19 on March 11. Jaeschke played as a substitute and scored three points on three kills.
Setter Jonah Seif (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and MKS Będzin fell to ONICO AZS Politechnika Warszawska, 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 25-21 on March 11. Seif scored two points on two blocks and set his team to a .364 hitting efficiency.
Shanghai beat outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) Beijing for the second time in the playoff final, 25-23, 31-29, 29-27. The teams will play again on March 16.
Outside hitter Greg Petty (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Pamvohaikios went 2-0 in their last two matches. On March 9, Pamvohaikios beat AO Orestiadas, 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-18. Petty led all scorers with 25 points on 21 kills, one block and three aces. He was credited with eight receptions, 63 percent positive. American setter Christian Smith (Massapequa, N.Y.), who also plays for Pamvohaikios, scored three points on three blocks and set the team to a .437 hitting efficiency.
On March 12, Pamvohaikos swept MGS Ethnikos Alexandroupoli, 25-22, 28-26, 28-26. Petty led his team with 14 points on 10 kills and four aces. He was credited with 20 receptions, 65 percent positive. Smith scored three points on three blocks. He set the team to a .436 hitting efficiency.
There is only one more match in the regular season on March 26.
CEV CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
In the first round of the 12-team playoff, Micah Christenson and Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova beat Poland’s host PGE Skra Belchatow, 25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21 on March 15. Christenson scored two points on two kills and set his team to a .520 hitting efficiency.
Matt Anderson and Russia’s Zenit Kazan swept Belgium’s host Knack Roeselare, 25-23, 25-19, 25-28 on March 14. Anderson scored eight points on seven kills and one block. He was credited with 13 receptions, 69 percent positive.
Max Holt and Italy’s Azimut Modena scraped their way past Thomas Jaeschke and Poland’s host Asseco Resovia Rzeszów, 23-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-19, 15-12. Holt scored 13 points on four kills, a match-high five blocks and four aces. Jaeschke played as a substitute and scored one points on a block.
The second round of matches will be played the weekend of March 21.
Champions League matches can be watched live and on demand at http://www.laola1.tv.