COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 24, 2019) – The U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team finished 4-3 and in third place in a tournament hosted by the Netherlands June 21-23 in Assen, Netherlands.
“All of our matches were steps towards our goals for Parapan American Games,” said U.S. Men’s Sitting Team Head Coach Greg Walker. “This has been a multi-year long process where our athletes and staff have diligently been studying the top teams in the world and trying to constantly figure out how to find ways to get better. Our training results this summer as an entire program has been a testament to that. Progress from our Canada friendlies in Columbus, to heading over the pond to playing a very high-level Germany squad prepared us for this tough tournament here in the Netherlands. This group seized the opportunity that was in front of them and were able to build confidence and learn more about what we can continue improving on. We have an incredible opportunity for our men’s sitting program this fall and without a doubt our athletes and staff are all in!”
The U.S. opened the friendly tournament with a 25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 26-24 victory over the host Dutch on June 21. However, the Ukraine blanked Team USA 25-18, 25-20, 25-20 in the second match of the day.
The Americans rebounded on June 22 to defeat Germany 25-8, 25-22, 19-25, 26-24, followed by a 25-10, 25-19, 25-16 victory over the Netherlands. The U.S. lost its second match with the Ukraine, 25-18, 25-19, 27-25.
“The best part about the last two days is that we are coming together as a team at the right time,” said U.S. Men’s outside hitter J. Dee Marinko following Saturday’s matches.
Team USA closed out the tournament on June 23 with a 25-19, 14-25, 25-20, 25-18 loss to Germany and a 25-12, 25-20, 25-21 victory over host Netherlands.
“We had a great tournament despite coming out of it in third place,” U.S. libero Travis Ricks said. “We handled ourselves with composure and poise despite some ups and downs on the court. This team has come so far from where it was when I started 10 years ago. All the hard work and training these men have been putting in is starting to finally pay off. We beat teams we had troubles even taking sets off of only a few years ago and we fought for every point in every set in every match. The U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team should be proud of its performances leading up to the 2019 Parapan American Games.”
Ukraine is ranked fifth in the world by World ParaVolley, while the U.S. is ranked eighth. Meanwhile, Germany is ranked seventh in the world and the Netherlands is ranked 12th.
Team USA, which also played friendly scrimmages against Germany earlier this month, is tuning up for the Parapan American Games in August. The Parapan American winner will earn a spot into the 2020 Paralympic Games.
In the opening match against Netherlands on June 21, Stephen Bracken scored a team-best 14 points while James Stuck and Zach Upp added 12 points. Marinko chipped in 10 points in the victory.
Team USA was led by Marinko’s 11 points in the loss to the Ukraine on June 21. Stuck added eight points in the loss.
Eric Duda and Stuck scored a team-best 15 points in Team USA’s win over Germany on June 22. Roderick Green and Marinko added 10 points in the victory, which included a 20-5 block advantage.
Team USA had a balanced offense in its second win over Netherlands on June 22 as Duda, Upp and Marinko scored 11 points each. The Americans served tough with a 13-4 ace advantage and 13-6 edge in blocks.
In its rematch with the Ukraine, the U.S. was led by Duda’s nine points, while Green, Upp and Marinko followed with eight points.
“Overall, today was a tough day,” Marinko said of the final day of competition. “We started off with a 3-1 win over Germany. We started on fire, then kept it rolling. Then we beat Netherlands in three. We played hard all day and had a lot of plays go our way but a few not.”
On the final day of competition, Stuck scored a team-best 19 points in the four-set loss to Germany, while Marinko added 14 points and Upp added 11 points. While the U.S. had a 14-10 block advantage and kill percent edge of 38-33 percent, Germany took advantage on the serve with an 11-6 ace margin.
In the finale, Stuck scored 11 points and Duda added 10 points in Team USA’s sweep of Netherlands. The Americans had an 11-5 ace advantage and converted 38 percent of their attacks into points.
U.S. Men’s National Sitting Volleyball Team
# – Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
1 – Travis Ricks (L, 5-7, San Diego, California)
2 – Dan Regan (M, 6-0, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Nick Dadgostar (OH/S/DS, 6-0, Sydney, Nebraska)
5 – Eric Duda (OH, 6-5, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
7 – Stephen Bracken (OH/S, 6-4, Brighton, Colorado)
8 – James Stuck (M, 6-5, New Kensington, Pennsylvania)
11 – Roderick Green (M, 6-3, West Monroe, Louisiana)
12 – Patrick Young (OH, 6-4, Albuquerque, New Mexico)
13 – Charlie Swearingen (Oh, 6-3, Gulfport, Mississippi)
14 – John Kremer (L, 5-9, Buford, Georgia)
15 – Chris Seilkop (OH/MB, 6-6, Deland, Florida)
17 – Zach Upp (OPP, 6-5, Bartlett, Illinois)
18 – J Dee Marinko (OH, 6-4, Norman, Oklahoma)