COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 19, 2013) – When Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson won the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball Shanghai Grand Slam, Patterson was so happy that he wore his gold medal to the airport to fly home.
When Gibb and Patterson won silver medals at their next two international competitions, Patterson, who had never reached the podium at an international tournament before 2013, started thinking that maybe getting to the finals wasn’t that hard.
| From left, Casey Patterson, Tyler Hildebrand and Jake Gibb
celebrate at the AVP event in Atlantic City, N.J..
“We won in Shanghai and made it to the finals in Argentina and Brazil,” said Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.), who joined forces with Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) at the end of 2012 when their former partners found new partners. “It didn’t hit me that it was tough to get to the finals… Once you’re there, you expect it every time.”
But Gibb, a nine-year veteran of international competition, didn’t get too excited.
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“I had no thoughts that we were going to be in every final,” Gibb said. “It wasn’t an issue.”
Reality set in as the team finished out of the top four in its next three FIVB tournaments.
“Casey was like, ‘What’s this losing about?’” Gibb said. “I pointed out that fifth place used to be a pretty good thing.”
It is a great illustration of the team of Gibb and Patterson: Patterson is the extrovert who has become a fan favorite as he pops and locks on the court and yells his trademark, “BOOM!” Gibb is low key, but provides consistent, solid leadership and can usually be counted on to make a big play when it’s needed.
The combination helped Gibb and Patterson reach the podium 12 times in 2013, including gold medals in Shanghai, at the World Series Cup and in four AVP domestic tour events. That success has made them the USAV Beach Team of the Year.
“I’m definitely trying to be more high all the time,” Patterson said. “Jake has fire, but he is very consistent. I think that’s what helped us this year is we both stepped in.”
Gibb said the team’s early success in 2013 was not something he saw coming during the preseason.
“We were training with the Canadians and Swiss a bunch and we were getting beat about half the time,” Gibb said. “It was really draining on us. I kept telling Casey, ‘That Canadian team is really good.’ It’s hard to gauge where you are in preseason. That’s what made the win in Shanghai so rewarding.”
Gibb and Patterson’s coach, Tyler Hildebrand, watched the partnership develop and improve.
“I think the first thing that needs to be said is that Casey Patterson made changes,” Hildebrand said. “It's hard to change, no matter what you’re talking about. But changing your body type by lifting five days a week and eating healthier is really difficult. He also changed the way he trained in the sand.
“Jake’s leadership was crucial throughout the season: His leadership with the two of them in the weight room, and his leadership on the court when things get tight.”
Even with the team’s success in 2013, both players know there is still plenty more work to do both to be successful in 2014 and to reach their ultimate goal of playing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I would say our biggest challenge is playing at a consistently higher level,” said Patterson, who is still adjusting to his role as a full-time defender playing on the left side. “Trying to improve our lowest level and never let either one of us get too low.”
Although Patterson was discussing the team’s level of play, he could also have been describing his enthusiastic on-court demeanor, which Gibb admitted he had to get used to.
“It was definitely an adjustment, but it was the easiest adjustment ever,” Gibb said. “There’s nothing but good energy on my side of the net.”