DestinationVolleyball.com is very fortunate to have as our friend Matt Garthoff, he of spike-town.com, Vol-B-Que and The Net Live fame. Matt went to LAX on Thursday to greet the U.S. Men when they got home from Japan, where they not only qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but won the FIVB World Cup.
Here’s Matt’s account of a fun homecoming along with the photos he snapped:
By Matt Garthoff
Fresh off their FIVB World Cup tournament victory in Japan, The United States Men’s National Volleyball Team was greeted by a small crowd of enthusiastic relatives and fans at Los Angeles International airport Thursday.
Supporters held up American flags, signs with the players’ likenesses and other messages congratulating them on winning the World Cup title—the team’s first since 1985.
Team USA finished the tournament with a 10-1 record and secured first place by beating Argentina 3-1 in the final match of the competition. Along with second place Italy, the Americans are now qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
While the players, coaches and staff appeared exhausted from the grueling monthlong tournament and 12-hour flight, they were quick to drop their bags and share smiles, photos, handshakes and hugs with the welcoming party.
When asked about his energy level, USA opposite hitter Murphy Troy replied, “We’re still running on a bit of adrenaline right now. But yeah, it’s a brutal [tournament.]”
While several players emerged wearing their gold medals, one of the youngest members of the team bore responsibility for the biggest piece of hardware. Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke was all smiles as he rolled a baggage cart toward the crowd topped with the shiny silver World Cup trophy.
The 2015 national team season ended on a high note for Team USA and the World Cup gold medal, paired with a bronze medal finish in World League, bodes well for the Americans’ chances in Rio. But while Team USA got some hometown love in L.A. today, they can count on a passionate and vociferous pro-Braziian crowd next summer.