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Former Lions on the Medal Podium

Aug. 24, 2008

BEIJING, China - What do two of the U.S. men's volleyball team's record-tying three Olympic gold medals have in common? LMU graduates. Sunday's 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 final over Brazil gave the U.S. men, including former Lion Reid Priddy (1997-2000), their third Olympic gold medal in the sport, matching the record set by the Russians. 24 years ago, at the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles, Paul Sunderland, who called the action as the 2008 men won it all, became the first former Lion to claim gold in men's volleyball as the U.S. swept Brazil, 15-6, 15-6, 15-7. The Americans would again take gold in 1988, defeating the Soviet Union at the games held in Seoul, South Korea.

Clay Stanley led the United States in the final match with 20 points on a match-high 15 kills, three blocks and two aces. He finished as the best scorer of the tournament with 146 points on 116 kills, 15 blocks and 15 aces. Priddy scored 12 points on eight kills and four aces in the win over Brazil.

"To be honest, I just think again trying to stay in the moment helped us," Priddy said when asked what it took to win the gold medal. "Sure we felt fatigued. We know that we're good at every aspect. We just had to be determined. The first emotion is shock. We're just so proud to be a part of this team representing our country. It's just very special...this group just really wanted to be together."

The U.S. men's team overcame the tragic events of Aug. 9, when head coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law, Todd Bachman, was killed and his wife Barbara was seriously injured by an assailant while site-seeing in Beijing. McCutcheon missed the team's first three matches, but returned on Aug. 16 when Barbara's health had improved enough that she returned to the United States.

The U.S. men finished the tournament undefeated at 8-0 en route to the gold medal. Brazil won the silver medal with a 6-2 record, while Russia defeated Italy, 25-22 25-19 25-23, to win bronze. The Americans opened Olympic play in "Pool A" with a victory over Venezuela on August 10 before defeating Italy two days later. USA then squared-off against and downed Bulgaria and China before completing pool play with a win over Japan on August 18.

Following a perfect 5-0 mark in its pool, USA defeated Serbia, 20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12 in the quarterfinals at Capital Indoor Stadium on August 20. The U.S. once again needed five games to take the semifinal match on August 22, squeaking past Russia by scores of 25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13 to advance to the final against Brazil.

The United States is the first country to win medals in all four Olympic volleyball events (men's and women's beach and men's and women's indoor). The United States won three of the four gold medals available as the beach teams of Kerri Walsh/Misty May-Treanor and Todd Rogers/Phil Dalhausser each claimed gold. The women's indoor team took a silver medal on Saturday, falling to Brazil.

In other Olympic news pertaining to former LMU players, Jeff Stevens (2003-05) helped guide the U.S. baseball team to a bronze medal in what could be the final time the sport is played in Olympic competition. A four-run fifth inning highlighted by Taylor Teagarden's two-run double and a two-run homer from Jason Donald helped lift the U.S. to an 8-4 win over Japan, clinching the bronze medal for Team USA. The U.S. finished the Olympic Games with a 6-3 record while Stevens posted a 9.00 ERA and a 1-2 record in four appearances for the team.

USA lost its first game of the Olympics to Korea on August 13 before defeating the Netherlands by a count of 7-0 in game two. Following a one-run loss to eventual silver-medalist Cuba, the Americans rattled-off four straight victories en route to the medal round. The U.S. once again lost to Cuba before bouncing-back 15 hours later to down Japan for the bronze.


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