Patak, Ciarelli rally US in Pan Am Games opener vs. Puerto Rico

It wasn’t pretty at times, but the U.S. Men’s Volleyball Pan American Games Team survived an upset scare in its group-play opener.

The United States rallied from A 2-1 deficit to win the final two games and defeat Puerto Rico 22-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-16, 15-13 on Monday in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The United States (1-0, 1-0 Group B) in the decisive fifth game trailed 12-9 before going on a 6-1 run to close out the match.


U.S. outside attackers Evan Patak and Tony Ciarelli each had a match-high 18 kills in the victory.

Patak was the lone member of the U.S. Men’s National Team competing at the Pan American Games. The former UC Santa Barbara All-American also led the United States with eight blocks and two aces.

Ciarelli, an All-American outside attacker at USC, is one of four current college players on the U.S. roster. UCLA setter Kyle Caldwell played throughout the match and helped the United States out-kill Puerto Rico 53-52 while adding three blocks.

Puerto Rico (0-1, 0-1 Group B) outside attacker Ezequiel Cruz in the loss had a team-high 13 kills.

With this victory, the United States moves into second place in Group B. The first-place team in each of the two groups will receive a bye into the semifinals, while the second and third place teams will compete in the quarterfinals.

The United States will continue the three-match group-play round with a match against Canada on Tuesday. If the United States defeats Canada it could potentially clinch in a spot in the quarterfinals.

The United States won the silver medal at the last Pan American Games in 2007, while Puerto Rico failed to advance beyond group play.