International Volleyball

Chase Budinger, Miles Evans punch ticket to Paris Olympic Games

Chase Budinger, Miles Evans punch ticket to Paris Olympic Games

Miles Evans goes all out against France/Volleyball World photo

After 17 months and 24 tournaments and God knows how many miles flown, Chase Budinger and Miles Evans’ Olympic race came down to three men crowding around a table over an iPhone in the Czech Republic.

Only Evans wouldn’t watch with Budinger and coach Ed Keller.

Couldn’t watch.

Nerves were too high as Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner battled into a third set with Germans Lukas Pfretzschner and Sven Winter.

The stakes? A USA loss and Budinger and Evans would be Olympians. A USA win and the race would go on.

It would go on no further. It would end there, as it did in 2021, on a perfect morning in Ostrava, a Winter line shot sealing a 21-13, 24-26, 15-12 win for Germany, sealing the Olympic bid for Budinger and Evans.

Hugs around. A few more. A long-awaited release of tension pent up from 17 months of a streaky Olympic race.

“I couldn’t watch the match of Trevor’s,” Evans said. “I was more nervous watching that match than any match I’ve played. I could hardly keep it together. I hate watching other US teams lose but, man, I was excited to see we made it in once that game of theirs was over. One of the best feelings on the planet and I wouldn’t have changed the process and way we’ve gotten here together.”

Budinger and Evans will join Andy Benesh and Miles Partain representing the USA in Paris later this summer. It marks the first time since 2008, when Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, and Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal each made their debuts, the United States will send four new faces to the Olympic Games.

It worked out well then: Rogers and Dalhausser won gold, and Gibb and Rosenthal took fifth.

“I just want to say I’m super thankful to all my friends and family who have believed in me from the beginning and have stayed with me keeping that fire going and helping me along the way,” said Evans, who will be the third American to compete in an Olympic Games without having won an AVP, joining Carl Henkel (1996) and Rob Heidger (2000). “Super thankful for the team we’ve put together for support and reminders throughout the journey. The team that we’ve put together has been one of the biggest reasons we got here. Super thankful Chase was willing to take a chance on me and guide me in the right direction. Can’t say how beyond stoked I am to be where I am and have this opportunity. Just so blessed and grateful. The hard work and the grind has been real and it’s awesome to show…

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