ANJI, China (March 19, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s Sitting Team got a glimpse of its potential on Saturday when it rallied from a 23-18 third-set deficit to tie the score. But the effort was not quite enough as the team fell to No. 2-ranked Iran, 25-10, 25-17, 30-28 at the ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup in Anji, China.

The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team continued its winning ways, toppling Ukraine 25-13, 25-21, 27-25 in its fourth pool play match among the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic-qualified teams. 

Had the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team completed its third-set comeback, the team would have made history with its first set win against the Iranians in international competition. The U.S. Men’s Sitting Team topped Iran in one set during a scrimmage match prior to the start of competition on Tuesday.

“The third set really showed what we can do when we buy in to a team culture, and I think it showed that we can be really competitive even when we don’t have all our pieces together,” U.S. Men’s Sitting Team Head Coach Greg Walker said. 

Team Captain Eric Duda (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) led Team USA with nine points (eight kills, one ace), while Chris Seilkop (DeLand, Florida) added seven points on six kills and a block.

Walker also looked to the team’s bench for momentum during the third set, subbing in Sam Surowiec (Kirkland, Washington), Hugo Storer (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Travis Ricks (San Diego, California) to help gain momentum at the attack line and on serve receive. Both Storer and Ricks were perfect on each of their one reception attempts.

The U.S. Men led Iran in kills (27-26), but Iran held the advantage in blocks (10-1) and aces (12-4). Libero John Kremer handled a team-best 22 receptions with an 86 positive reception percent as the team was credited with an overall 67 positive reception percent to Iran’s 83 positive reception percent. James Stuck (New Kensington, Pennyslvania) set Team USA to a 32 kill percent for the match, while Iran converted 36 percent of its attacks into points.

“In my opinion the skill level of this team is better per individual (than previous teams), and we have so many guys who can play multiple positions,” Seilkop said of the substitutions.

While Walker said he was pleased with the team’s progression throughout the match, the true test will come Sunday when the Americans take on Egypt.

“We have to be consistent from start to finish,” he added. “(With Iran) we approached the sets as mini-games, and I think that mentality helped the guys focus on getting out of rotations and keeping it moving.”

The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team battled through “defensive struggles,” and a controversial call late in the third set to beat Ukraine.

At 24-24 in the third set, middle blocker Lora Webster (Phoenix, Arizona) was called for delay-of-game after the head referee failed to recognize her attempts to get a new ball at the service line. Team captain Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina) emphatically tied the game and put the U.S. ahead for good on consecutive kills following the call.

“I really think it says so much about who we are as a team that we didn’t fall apart and just trusted that we could get it done,” Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Washington) said of the finish.

Ukraine led the U.S. in blocks (12-9) and the teams tied in aces (7-7). However, the U.S. led in kills (32-16). Bethany Zummo (Dublin, California) handled a team-best 18 receptions with a 50 positive reception percent. Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) started the first and third sets at setter and Alexis Shifflet started the second set in her place in leading Team USA to a 47 kill percent and .309 hitting efficiency (32-11-68).

Erickson dominated the match, scoring 21 points off of 16 kills, three aces and two blocks. Holloway added seven points (four kills, two aces, one block).

U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter also highlighted the strong contributions from players off the bench, particularly from Michelle Schiffler (Lake Wales, Florida) who clinched the second set with a hard kill from the outside.

“It’s good for (the coaches) to try different things and see how players react so that we have a clear picture going into the Paralympics,” he explained. “It’s finding out how players react in certain systems whether they’re coming off the bench or starting.”

The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team faces Canada at 5:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, while the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team looks to score their first tournament win against Egypt at 2:30 a.m. ET.

U.S. Men’s Sitting Team Statistics vs. Iran
Starter: Dan Regan, Eric Duda, James Stuck, Roderick Green, Charlie Swearingen, Chris Sielkop, John Kremer
Points: Duda 9, Sielkop 7, Green 6, Regan 4, Stuck 3, Swearingen 3
Kills: Duda 8,  Sielkop 6, Regan 4, Green 4, Stuck 3, Swearingen 2
Blocks: Seilkop 1
Aces: Duda 1, Green 2, Swearingen 1

U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Statistics vs. Ukraine
Starters: Lora Webster, Katie Holloway, Heather Erickson, Monique Burkland, Kaleo Kanahele, Nicky Nieves, Bethany Zummo
Points: Erickson 21, Holloway 7, Schiffler 5, Nieves 5, Webster 4, Burkland 4, Shifflett 2
Kills: Erickson 16, Holloway 4, Burkland 4, Schiffler 3, Nieves 3, Webster 2
Blocks: Webster 2, Schiffler 2, Nieves 2, Holloway 1
Aces: Erickson 3, Holloway 2, Schifflet 2

U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Roster for the Intercontinental Cup (March 17-23)
# – Name (Position, Hometown, Height)

1 – Lora Webster (MB, Phoenix, Arizona, 5-11)
2 – Bethany Zummo (L, Dublin, California, 5-2)
3 – Alexis Shifflet (S, Waseca, Minnesota, 5-4)
4 – Michelle Schiffler (MB, Lake Wales, Florida, 6-0)
5 – Katie Holloway (OH, Lake Stevens, Washington, 6-3)
6 – Heather Erickson (OH, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 5-11)
7 – Monique Burkland (MB, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 5-9)
10 – Kari Miller (OPP/DS, Washington D.C., 5-6)
13 – Nichole Millage (OH, Champaign, Illinois, 5-7)
14 – Kaleo Kanahele (S, Edmond, Oklahoma, 5-6)
16 – Nicky Nieves (OH, Kissimmee, Florida, 5-10)
17 – Tia Edwards (OH/MB, Skiatook, Oklahoma, 5-7)

Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coach: Cara Lang
Assistant Coach: Lazaro Beltran
Team Manager: Dr. Laura Finch
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Lawrence

U.S. Intercontinental Cup Women’s Sitting Team Schedule (times listed as Chinese Standard Time)
March 17: USA def Rwanda, 25-9, 25-10, 25-7
March 18: USA def China, 25-22, 18-25, 25-19, 25-17
March 18: USA def Iran, 25-18, 25-13, 25-18
March 19: USA def. Ukraine 25-13, 25-21, 27-25
March 20: USA vs. Canada, 5:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. ET)
March 21: USA vs. Brazil, 12 p.m. (12 a.m. ET)

U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team Roster for the Intercontinental Cup (March 17-23)
# – Name (Position, Hometown, Height)

1 – Travis Ricks (DS, San Diego, California, 5-7)
2 – Daniel Regan (MB, St. Louis, Missouri, 6-0)
3 – Sam Surowiec (OH, Kirkland, Washington, 6-2)
4 – Ben Aman (OH, Tacoma, Washington, 6-5)
5 – Eric Duda (OH, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 6-5)
8 – James Stuck (S, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 6-5)
9 – Hugo Storer (L, Greensboro, North Carolina, 6-0)
11 – Roderick Green (MB, West Monroe, Louisiana, 6-3)
13 – Charlie Swearingen (MB, Gulfport, Mississippi, 6-3)
14 – John Kremer (L, Buford, Georgia, 5-9)
15 – Chris Seilkop (OH, DeLand, Fla., 6-6)
16 – Josh Smith (MB/OPP, Riverside, California, 6-2)

Head Coach: Greg Walker
Assistant Coach: Joe Skinner
Assistant Coach: Mike Hobson
Team Manager: Dixie Collins
Athletic Trainer: Katherine KingU.S. Intercontinental Cup Men’s Sitting Team Schedule (times listed as Chinese Standard Time)

March 17:
 China def USA, 22-25, 25-19, 25-12, 25-18

March 18:
 Germany def USA, 25-14, 25-9, 25-21

March 19:
Iran def USA, 25-10, 25-17, 30-28

March 20:
USA vs. Egypt, 2:30 p.m. (2:30 a.m. ET)

March 21:
USA vs. Brazil, 9 a.m. (9 p.m. ET on March 20)