COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 23, 2017) – After an initial setback, the U.S. Girls Youth Sitting Team came back to defeat Venezuela 14-25, 27-25, 25-20 at the 2017 Youth Parapan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The win secured the team a spot in Friday’s gold-medal match against Brazil. Later on Friday, the U.S. lost its final pool play match to Brazil, 25-16, 25-18, 25-6.

“I think my heart is still beating,” U.S. Head Coach Elliot Blake said after the Venezuela match. “I am so proud of the fight in these girls to continue to challenge Venezuela even after the initial set one loss.”

In set one, Venezuela used a series a quick attacks on first and second contacts to throw off the rhythm of the U.S. Girls and pulled away quickly enough that the girls could not recover.

In set two, the U.S. came out strong building a 6-2 lead before Venezuela started to chip away at it, narrowing the gap at 9-7 and 15-13. The U.S. went on two runs to extend the lead to 21-15, only to see Venezuela answer and take the lead at 23-21. However, the U.S. girls brought themselves back, tying the score at 23-23 and again at 24-24. The U.S. took the lead at 25-24. After a quick Venezuela rally win to tie at 25, the U.S. took set two, 27-25.

“We got into a bit of a lead there in set two and then made a series of unforced errors,” Blake said. “That gave Venezuela the edge they needed to think they could make a comeback for the win, but our girls handled the pressure and secured the win.”

Set three started off much like set two, with the U.S. building a lead only to see Venezuela come right back. At 7-7, the U.S. started to pull away and build leads of 12-8, 14-9, and 20-11. Venezuela came back to narrow the gap at 16-20 and 19-21, before a missed serve gave the USA a break they needed to capitalize and win the set and match 25-20.

U.S. Roster for Youth Parapan American Games

Alyssa Cleland (Edmond, Okla.)
Annie Flood (Salem, Ore.)
Autum Reagan (Wellington, Kan.)
Nina McVay (Mooresville, N.C.)

Head Coach: Elliot Blake
Athletic Trainer: Lauren Chamness

Competition Schedule (All times local)
March 21
Brazil def. Venezuela, 3-0
USA def. Venezuela, 2-1

March 22
Brazil def. USA, 3-0
Brazil def. Venezuela, 3-0

March 23
USA def. Venezuela, 2-1
Brazil def. USA, 3-0

March 24
1:30 p.m. Final, No. 1 v No. 2