USA Volleyball Experiences Unprecedented Summer Success

Sept. 29, 2008, 5:44 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 29, 2008) - USA Volleyball experienced a summer of unparalleled success in 2008 with six gold medals, three silvers and a bronze in major international competitions involving the Summer Olympic Games, Summer Paralympic Games, NORCECA Continental Championships and FIVB Youth Beach World Championship.

"2008 was a banner year for USA Volleyball culminating in the unprecedented success at the 2008 Olympic Games," USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer Doug Beal said. "At all levels - youth, junior and senior, and in all disciplines, indoor, beach and Paralympic -USA athletes and coaches performed magnificently."

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijings, the United States became the first country ever to have teams playing for the gold medal in all four volleyball disciplines. The U.S. beach team of Misty May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.) won their second consecutive gold medal in women's Olympic beach volleyball by sweeping top-ranked Tian Jia and Wang Jie (China) on Aug. 21. May-Treanor and Walsh became the first pair to win two Olympic beach gold medals, and did so without dropping a set. On the following day, Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) defeated Brazil's Marcio Araujo and Fábio Luiz Magalhães in three sets to win the men's Olympic beach gold medal, despite a loss to open the Games. Dalhausser and Rogers became the third different American tandem to win an Olympic men's beach volleyball gold medal.

The U.S. Olympic Men's Indoor Team captured the Olympic gold medal with a four-set victory over top-ranked Brazil on the final day of the Olympics. The U.S. Men, which won their third Olympic gold medal since 1984, went undefeated during the tournament despite playing under adverse conditions. U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon dealt with a family tragedy while in Beijing as his father-in-law was killed and mother-in-law seriously wounded at a Beijing tourist site. A month earlier, Team USA won its first-ever FIVB World League gold medal. The squad was recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee as its Team of the Month for August 2008.

The U.S. Olympic Women's Indoor Team earned a spot in the Olympic gold-medal match against top-ranked Brazil on Aug. 23, but settled for the silver medal after falling in four sets. The U.S. Women, the only team in the Games to win a set against Brazil, earned its first Olympic medal since 1992. During the Olympics, Team USA defeated second-ranked Italy, third-ranked Cuba, fifth-ranked Japan and host seventh-ranked China. The U.S. Women's Olympic Team also played under similar difficult conditions as McCutcheon's wife Elisabeth was a 2004 Olympian and played with eight of the 12 members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.

The U.S. Women's Sitting Team concluded the run of summer success at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. Team USA reached the gold-medal match after finishing with a bronze at the 2004 Paralympic Games, but settled for the 2008 silver medal with its second loss of the tournament to host China.

The summer was kick-started in the right direction by the USA Volleyball High Performance Indoor Program competing in four NORCECA Continental Championship events in youth and junior age groups. The U.S. Junior Men's National Team earned the bronze medal at the NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship in El Salvador June 30-July 5. Although not guaranteed a spot at the 2009 FIVB World Championship at the time, it has been confirmed that Team USA will compete in the event come next summer.

The U.S. Girls' Youth National Team captured the gold medal at the NORCECA Girls' Youth Continental Championship without dropping a set July 5-10 at Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The U.S. Women's Junior National Team came back from an opening loss in pool play to win the NORCECA Women's Junior Continental Championship gold medal at the event held July 22-27 at Saltillo, Mexico. The U.S. Boys' Youth National Team, hosted the NORCECA Boys' Youth Continental Championship in Miami Aug. 3-8, earned the tournament's gold medal without dropping a set.

"Our primary goal for all of our teams is to qualify for the World Championships," said Tom Pingel, managing director for USA Volleyball's High Performance Indoor Program. "While it is certainly important for us to win the NORCECA Championships, it is also critical to development and preparation of our athletes to compete against the top teams from outside NORCECA at World Championships."

Tony Ciarelli (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Jeff Carlson (Newport Beach, Calif.) reached the SWATCH FIVB Youth Beach World Championships title match at The Hague, Netherlands, but settled for the silver medal of the event presented by RICOH for players under the age of 19. Joey Dykstra (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Mark Van Zwieten (Pompano Beach, Fla.) earned a bronze medal at the 2008 World University Championships for beach volleyball held in July at Hamburg, Germany.

USA Volleyball beach athletes enjoyed success on the SWATCH FIVB Beach Tour leading up to the Olympics. The U.S. had four women's pairs ranked among the top 10 in the Olympic Games Qualification Rankings, while the men had three pairs among the top 12 in the Olympic Games Qualification Rankings. U.S. Women's beach teams won three FIVB Grand Slam events and an additional tour stop, highlighted by sweeping the medals at the Henkel Grand Slam in Paris. U.S. men's beach teams also won three FIVB Grand Slam events and four overall tour stops.

"2008 has been a year of unprecedented success for USAV Beach Programs," USA Director of Beach Programs Ali Wood Lamberson said. "From the unparalleled performance of our Olympians, the first beach volleyball double gold in any Olympics, to the outstanding achievements of our revitalized Youth and Junior teams, USA athletes have proven that they are the gold standard."