RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Sept. 16, 2016) – The U.S. Men finished their 2016 Paralympic campaign with a 25-15, 25-16, 25-17 loss to China on Friday afternoon, finishing eighth in the tournament.
James Stuck (New Kensington, Pennsylvania) led the U.S. with seven points (three kills, two blocks, two aces). J. Dee Marinko (Guthrie, Oklahoma) and Roderick Green (West Monroe, Louisiana) added six points each.
“We knew this match could help our placement overall with other tournaments, so we came out with a fighting spirit, but started flat and China took advantage of it,” Stuck said. “Throughout the tournament we had glimpses of greatness.”
China led from the start, using consistent ball control to pull ahead of the U.S. as rallies wore on. The U.S. defense refused to surrender, led by Stuck (seven digs) and Marinko (six digs).
“China is a great team. Their ball handling and consistency was incredible, and it comes down to straight experience,” Head Coach Greg Walker said. “We knew we didn’t have a lot of experience that some of the other teams gained in this last year of the quad. They made it very tough for our players to try and put the ball down.”
The 2016 Paralympics marked the first appearance by the U.S. Men since the 2004 Games in Athens. The 2016 squad finished 0-4, falling to Brazil, Egypt and Germany in pool play before Friday’s finale against China. Since the Paralympics do not have a quarterfinal round, a final match is offered for the third and fourth place teams in each pool to determine final standings.
Team USA’s strongest performance came against Germany in the second pool play match. After falling behind 2-1, the U.S. rallied in the fourth set to force a fifth set, eventually losing 15-10.
“I really think we showed our potential in the match against Germany and it was great to see the team really start to execute all the things we’ve worked on,” Charlie Swearingen (Gulfport, Mississippi) said, adding the match was his personal highlight from the Paralympics.
Many others on the team cited the Brazilian crowds as the highlight of the Paralympics, including Friday’s crowd which was boisterous and grew louder and more excited in favor of the U.S. as the match wore on.
“It was really once in a lifetime,” Ben Aman (Tacoma, Washington) said. “I know it’s sort of a cliché and everyone says it, but 21 years after an accident and playing sports growing up, you never think you’ll hit an actual stage, and here’s a stage. It was huge.”
For Walker, the focus now shifts to preparing the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team for a new Paralympic cycle in which the team will look to qualify for a second straight Paralympics. The Rio Games brought valuable lessons he said will carry the team forward.
“I was happy with how some of the guys coming off the bench like Ben (Aman) and Josh (Smith) did a great job stepping up to pressure,” Walker said. “Big lessons and shows us where we need recruitment to come in. Just getting our team more experience playing other teams is huge.”
U.S. Starters vs. China
Middle blockers: Roderick Green, James Stuck
Outside hitters: Eric Duda, J. Dee Marinko
Opposite: Chris Seilkop
Setter: Jese Schag
Libero: John Kremer
U.S. Statistics vs. China
Kills: J. Dee Marinko 6, Roderick Green 4, Eric Duda 4, James Stuck 3, Jese Schag 3, Ben Aman 2, Josh Smith 2, Edgar Laforest 1, Charlie Swearingen 1
Blocks: Stuck 2, Green 2, Duda 2, Smith 1, Chris Seilkop 1, Edgar Laforest 1
Aces: Stuck 2, Aman 1, Smith 1
Digs: Stuck 7, Marinko 6, Schag 5, Dan Regan 4, Aman 4, Duda 3, Kremer 3, Smith 3, Green 1
Assists: Schag 6, Duda 5, Marinko 4, Stuck 3, Kremer 1, Aman 1, Laforest 1
U.S. Paralympic Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team Roster
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
2. Dan Regan (Middle Blocker, 6-0, St. Louis, Missouri)
4. Ben Aman (Outside Hitter, 6-5, Tacoma, Washington)
5. Eric Duda (Outside Hitter, 6-5, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
6. Jese Schag (Setter, 6-2, Norway, Illinois)
8. James Stuck (Setter, 6-5, New Kensington, Pennsylvania)
10. Edgar LaForest (Outside Hitter, 6-2, San Juan, Puerto Rico)
11. Roderick Green (Middle Blocker, 6-3, West Monroe, Louisiana)
13. Charlie Swearingen (Outside Hitter, 6-3, Gulfport, Mississippi)
14. John Kremer (Libero, 5-9, Buford, Georgia)
15. Chris Seilkop (Outside Hitter/Middle Blocker, 6-6 DeLand, Florida)
16. Josh Smith (6-2 Opposite, Riverside, California)
18. J. Dee Marinko (Outside Hitter, 6-4, Guthrie, Oklahoma)
Head Coach: Greg Walker
Assistant Coach: Joe Skinner
Team Leader: Dixie Collins
Athletic Trainer: Katherine King
2016 Paralympic Games Men’s Sitting Volleyball Pools
Pool A: Brazil, Egypt, Germany, United States
Pool B: Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, China
2016 Paralympic Games Men’s Sitting Volleyball Pool Schedules
All times EDT
Brazil def. USA, 25-14, 25-17, 25-14
Egypt def. Germany, 18-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-14, 15-7
Iran vs. China, 5:30 p.m.
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Ukraine, 7:30 p.m.
Brazil vs. Egypt, 9 a.m.
USA vs. Germany, 5:30 p.m.
Ukraine def. China, 26-28, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 16-14
Iran def. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 25-17, 25-22, 25-17
Egypt def. USA, 25-14, 25-9
Brazil def. Germany, 24-26, 25-23, 25-18, 25-12
Bosnia-Herzegovina def. China, 25-14, 25-22, 25-19
Iran def. Ukraine, 25-22, 28-26, 25-20
Men’s 7th-8th Classification, China def. USA, 25-15, 25-16, 25-17
Men’s 5th-6th Classification, Germany vs. Ukraine, 2:30 p.m.