As the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Teams went undefeated in Day One of competition at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, some of the country’s top Olympians were watching and cheering on this year’s teams. Below, six of them share what impressed them about wins by the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team and the beach teams of Casey Patterson/Jake Gibb and April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings.

What’s your thoughts on the U.S. teams on day one of the Rio Olympic Games?

Bob Ctvrtlik
Olympic gold medalist, indoor, 1988; Olympic bronze medalist, indoor 1992

The U.S. Women versus Puerto Rico had a cruel efficiency.  It was great to watch the way they never really let PR into the match.  Great effort doing the little things like covering the hitter and picking up the loose balls. Really impressive how Kelly Murphy gave them a big lift from both the front and back row. Excellent start to a long tournament.

Nicole Davis
Olympic silver medalist, indoor, 2008, 2012

I think it’s challenging to play the day after the Opening Ceremony – it’s such an emotional experience.  The first match of the Olympics, as with any tournament can feel a little clunky. As you saw, there have been some “upsets” already in the other matches. It’s great for the USA team to be tested, and for things NOT to be easy for the team.  Most important is how they respond to the challenges. We didn’t have enough adversity in London, and leading up to London, so when it got really difficult in the final, we didn’t know how to help each other or maintain composure. This team has already figured out how to help each other, and it embraces challenges well, and that’s exactly what I saw in the match against Puerto Rico. Nice building block on the road to what’s possible for this team.

Dain Blanton
Olympic gold medalist, beach, 2000

Great start for Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson. Perfect type of match to kick off Games. You always want to get nerves acclimated. They are in a great spot moving forward.

Lloy Ball
Olympic gold medalist, indoor, 2008

I thought Casey looked a little nervous at the beginning of their match. But once his passing steadied out, the side-out game was solid. Jake blocked well and they out-matched the Qatar team. The women’s indoor team had to fight off an athletic and pesky Puerto Rican team. Even though it was 3-0, the match was a close one. First match jitters are normal. I’m sure (Head Coach) Karch Kiraly will dial them in at practice today and they will be cleaner in tomorrow’s match. Didn’t see April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jenning’s match. I heard 2-0. Not surprised 🙂 Walsh knows how to win and Ross is hungry for Gold.

Scott Fortune

Olympic gold medalist, indoor, 1988; Olympic bronze medalist, indoor 1992
The toughest thing the day after the Opening Ceremony and the first day of the Olympics is to fight the emotional fatigue and nerves.  The USA Volleyball teams all focused on playing efficiently and I really liked the energy on the beach to overcome any first day upsets or letdowns.  First day victories are key to start on the right foot for success during the long two weeks.

Ryan Millar
Olympic gold medalist, indoor, 2008

I have always loved Casey Patterson‘s energy and love for the game. That was in fine form during their first match. You could never watch him play and think he is not passionate about winning. He now has the gift of harnessing that passion for the greatest country in the world!