TOKYO (Aug. 26, 2021) – The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team will rely on a mix of Paralympic Games veterans and rookies to defend its gold medal starting on Saturday at the Makuhari Messe Event Hall in Tokyo. The team is scheduled to begin Paralympic competition on Aug. 28 at 1 a.m. ET (midnight CT and...
TOKYO (Aug. 28, 2021) – After three weeks of uncertainty and changes in plans and players, the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team finally hit the court at the 2020 Paralympic Games on Saturday and beat Rwanda 3-0 (25-11, 25-9, 25-11) at the Makuhari Messe event center.
The U.S. Women (1-0) will play China on Monday at 5:30 a.m. ET (6:30 p.m. in Tokyo). The match is scheduled to be live streamed.
The match against Rwanda was the first time the team was able to play as a group of 12 in Tokyo after health issues forced some players to quarantine for a time before traveling. Four players and most staff arrived in Tokyo on Aug. 21. More players arrived on Aug. 26 and libero Bethany Zummo arrived on the evening before the first match.
Zummo still started the match and played all three sets.
“My whole team was just so happy that I was here to play,” Zummo said. “They knew that even if I was a little bit off today, which I was, that they were going to pick up the slack.”
“She had done what she needed to do to make sure she was ready,” U.S. Head Coach Bill Hamiter said of Zummo. “I think she did a heck of a job today.”
Almost every player on the U.S. roster saw time on the court against Rwanda, including Whitney Dosty, who arrived in Tokyo not knowing for sure if she would get to play because she had not yet classified.
Paralympic competitors are “classified” by medical officials to determine if their disability qualifies them to compete. Dosty was classified in Tokyo on Thursday after failing to classify in the past.
Dosty played in the third set and scored her first point on a kill that had the U.S. players and staff cheering.
“I am wearing a mask, but I am beaming under here,” Dosty said. “It’s so much to take in being here. To step out there after training and being on the team for so many years, but because of the classification not being able to actually play; it just feels amazing.”
Four-time Paralympian and Team Captain Katie Holloway led all scorers with 11 points on a match-high nine kills and two blocks.
“We were trying to just be present,” Holloway said. “Every single person was navigating their nerves in different ways.”
Lora Webster scored 10 points on four kills, four blocks and two aces. Heather Erickson totaled nine points on eight kill and one ace. Jillian Williams, making her Paralympic debut, scored nine points on a match-high seven aces and two kills. Monique Matthews finished with seven points on four blocks, two kills and one ace.
Setter Kaleo Maclay scored six points on three kills and three aces. Setter Lexi Shifflett started the third set for Maclay and scored three points on aces. The two setters combined to help the U.S. to a .467 hitting efficiency.
Emma Schieck, making her Paralympic debut, ended the first set with an ace.
“Our biggest goal was not to look past Rwanda,” Hamiter said. “We had no information on them. They hadn’t played in a long while. We really didn’t know what to expect.”
NBC has also released the TV schedule for the Paralympic Games at NBCOlympics.com.
U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
1 Lora Webster (MB, 5-11, Point Lookout, N.Y.)
2 Bethany Zummo (L, 5-3, Dublin, Calif.)
3 Lexi Shifflett (S/L, 5-4, Waseca, Minn.)
5 Katie Holloway (OH, 6-3, Lake Stevens, Wash.)
6 Heather Erickson (OPP, 5-11, Fayetteville, N.C.)
7 Monique Matthews (MB/OH, 6-0, Ardmore, Okla.)
8 Whitney Dosty (OH/OPP, 6-3, Tucson, Ariz.)
11 Jillian Williams (MB/OPP/OH, 5-10, Odem, Texas)
12 Emma Schieck (OH, 5-7, Statesville, N.C.)
13 Nichole Millage (OPP, 5-7, Champaign, Ill.)
14 Kaleo Kanahele Maclay (S, 5-6, Edmond, Okla.)
15 Annie Flood (S/OPP, 5-8, Salem, Ore.)
Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC)
U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Paralympic Schedule
Saturday, August 28
USA def Rwanda, 3-0 (25-11, 25-9, 25-11)
Monday, August 30
5:30 a.m. ET USA v China (4:30 a.m. CT; 6:30 p.m. in Tokyo)
Wednesday, September 1
5:30 a.m. ET USA v RPC (4:30 a.m. CT; 6;30 p.m. in Tokyo)
Friday, September 3 – Semifinals
5:30 a.m. ET or 7:30 a.m. ET
Saturday, September 4 – Medal Matches
Bronze: 3:30 a.m. ET (2:30 a.m. CT; 4:30 p.m. in Tokyo)
Gold: 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CT; 10 a.m. on Sept. 5 in Tokyo)