COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 11, 2016) – The 2016 U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team continues to make history: in the latest rankings released by World ParaVolley – the sport’s international governing body – the U.S. Women are ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history.

The U.S., previously ranked No. 2, traded places with China after defeating the former worldwide No. 1 for gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September.

“Receiving the world No. 1 ranking for the first time is ‘icing on the cake’ to the gold medal the team earned in Rio,” Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. “It is a reflection of the high level the team has consistently played at the whole quad, especially in the last year and a half. If we would not have won the Intercontinental Cup in March we would not have earned the No. 1 ranking even though we won the gold medal in Rio. Obtaining the No. 1 ranking will put a target on our backs, but at this point in the team’s development we will be proud of wearing it. It means our work is not finished and we have much more to do!”

The U.S. now tops the list with 5,350 ranking points. China is second with 5,200. Brazil improves one spot to worldwide No. 3 after winning bronze at the Rio Games. Ukraine, which lost to Brazil in the bronze medal match, sits fourth while Netherlands rounds out the top five countries on the women’s side.

China has long been the world’s top-ranked team. China won every Paralympic gold medal since Women’s Sitting Volleyball was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 2004, prior to the U.S. victory in Rio, as well as the 2010 and 2014 world championships.

The new ranking is the second time the U.S. Women improved their placement this calendar year. In March, the team was ranked No. 3 before the World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup. After defeating China for gold at the tournament, the U.S. supplanted then-No. 2 Ukraine to move up one spot ahead of the Paralympics. 

The U.S. Men also improved their overall world ranking following the Paralympics: the team moved up one spot to No. 8, passing Russia after an eight-place finish at the Paralympics. Iran and Brazil maintained the top two spots in the Men’s Sitting Volleyball rankings.

The U.S. Sitting Teams are enjoying a break from training following the Paralympic Games and return to practice on Monday in preparation for the 2017 season.