Former Loyola men’s volleyball outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke and Team USA men’s volleyball team will not be leaving the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics empty handed. The Americans secured a bronze medal after overcoming a two-set deficit against Russia on Aug. 21.
After losing to Italy in the fifth set in the semifinals, Team USA, which is ranked No. 5 in the world, took the Russians into a nail-biting five-set match, winning the last set 15-13. At match point, two-time Olympian Matt Anderson threw down a massive spike to upset the Russians. Team USA immediately ran into a circle in celebration as the stadium roared “U-S-A!”
Team USA men’s volleyball has three gold medals with the most recent one from the 2006 Beijing Games. The only other time the team won bronze was at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Jaeschke spent three seasons at Loyola before pursuing a professional volleyball career. The 6-foot-6-inch outside hitter is one of the most decorated athletes in Loyola Ramblers history. He helped pave the way to the Ramblers’ back-to-back NCAA National Championship titles in 2014 and 2015.
During his time at Loyola, Jaeschke led the team to a combined 79-13 overall record and put a developing program on the map as one of the best in the country. The Wheaton, Illinois, native was named 2013 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Freshman of the Year and the 2014 and 2015 MIVA Player of the Year. He also received American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) First Team All-American honors in 2015, along with being named 2015 AVCA Player of the Year.
After leading Loyola’s men’s volleyball team to its second consecutive national title, Jaeschke decided to forgo his senior season to pursue a professional career overseas with the Polish volleyball club Asseco Resovia Rzeszow — one of the top teams in the Polish professional league. Jaeschke told The PHOENIX in January that his decision to sign a professional paid contract was partly based off his Olympic ambitions.
In July, Jaeschke’s Olympic dreams became a reality when he earned a spot on Team USA’s 12-person roster.
Jaeschke was Loyola’s first U.S. Olympian since Tom O’Hara competed in track and field events at the 1964 Tokyo Games.