ANJI, China (March 21, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team landed in China with a list of multiple goal, including a win against longtime rival China, winning the pool of Paralympic-qualified teams and bringing home a gold medal from the World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup.
The team moved one step closer to accomplishing all its goals on Sunday following a 25-21, 25-15, 25-18 victory against Brazil. The Americans went 5-0 in pool play, dropping only one set to the Chinese during a 3-1 win on Friday.
The U.S. Men’s Sitting Team fell 25-15, 25-20, 25-17 to Brazil shortly before the women’s teams played.
Related: U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Home | U.S. Men’s Sitting Team Home | World ParaVolley
The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team controlled the pace through much of the match, building large leads in each set. However, the team struggled in serve receive, allowing Brazil to creep back in each set.
“Sometimes you just have to struggle through it to get a win,” Head Coach Bill Hamiter said.
The Brazilians jumped out to an early lead in the third set. However, a nine-point service run by setter Kaleo Kanahele (Edmond, Oklahoma) gave the Americans an advantage they never relinquished. Kanahele totaled six points, five of which came from service aces.
Outside hitter Nichole Millage (Champaign, Illinois) recorded both of her two kills to end long rallies in the third set, breaking an 11-11 tie to put Team USA ahead for good.
Starters Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina), Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Oklahoma) and Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Florida) led the U.S. in scoring with nine points each. Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Washington) added six points each.
While the Americans handily won their pool, China, Ukraine and Brazil ended in a three-way tie for second place with 4-2 records. China took second place on the strength of its set record. Based on the point differential tie-break, Ukraine edged Brazil for the No. 3 seed.
The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team rematches with Brazil at 4 p.m. in China (4 a.m. ET) on Tuesday in the playoff semifinals.
“I have complete confidence that we’ll be fine to play them two days in a row,” Millage said. “So long as we minimize our errors, it should be okay.”
The U.S. Men’s Sitting Team faces Germany in the consolation playoff bracket at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in China (10:30 p.m. ET) after finishing 0-5 in pool play.
Head Coach Greg Walker said the team has focused on approaching each set as a series of mini-games based on the technical timeouts. The team played more competitively in each of the first “mini-games” against Brazil, trading shot for shot with the Paralympic Games host nation.
The Americans also controlled the tempo from the service line, missing two serves against four aces.
Walker used substitutions in each set to keep momentum strong, utilizing Travis Ricks (San Diego, California) and Hugo Storer (Greensboro, North Carolina) on defense to give the Americans a boost.
Ben Aman (Tacoma, Washington) and Josh Smith (Riverside, California) also saw significant playing time in the match, playing both the second and third sets. Aman capitalized on the opportunity, tallying five kills and two blocks for seven points, while Smith scored six points (four blocks, two kills).
Roderick Green (West Monroe, Louisiana) led Team USA with 10 points (seven kills, two aces, one block).
In an effort to give the Americans favorable defensive match-ups at the net, Walker moved Green, Aman and other attackers to new positions along the net, which provided a learning experience, Aman said.
“It was sort of working, but we’re just figuring out new things,” Aman said. “We all just have to go out there and swing smart. It’s not going to be an individual who gets it done. It has to come from the team.”
U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Statistics vs. Brazil
Starters: Lora Webster, Katie Holloway, Heather Erickson, Monique Burkland, Kaleo Kanahele, Nicky Nieves, Bethany Zummo
Points: Erickson 9, Burkland 9, Nieves 9, Holloway 6, Kanahele 6, Webster 4, Nichole Millage 2
Kills: Erickson 8, Burkland 8, Nieves 4, Holloway 3, Millage 2, Webster 2, Kanahele 1
Blocks: Holloway 3, Nieves 3, Erickson 1
Aces: Kanahele 5, Nieves 2, Burkland 1
U.S. Men’s Sitting Team Statistics vs. Brazil
Starter: Dan Regan, Eric Duda, James Stuck, Roderick Green, Charlie Swearingen, Chris Sielkop, John Kremer
Points: Green 10, Ben Aman, 7, Josh Smith 6, Regan 6, Stuck 5, Duda 3, Swearingen 3
Kills: Green 7, Regan 6, Aman 5, Stuck 5, Duda 2, Smith 2, Swearingen 1
Blocks: Smith 4, Aman 2, Green 1, Swearingen 1
Aces: Green 2, Duda 1, Swearingen 1
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
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 def. Canada 25-8, 25-9, 25-8
March 21: USA def. Brazil 25-21, 25-15, 25-18
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 King
U.S. Intercontinental Cup Men’s Sitting Team Schedule (times listed as Chinese Standard Time)
March 18: Germany def USA, 25-14, 25-9, 25-21
March 19: Iran def USA, 25-10, 25-17, 30-28
March 20: Egypt def. USA 25-13, 25-22, 25-18
March 21: Brazil def. USA 25-15, 25-20, 25-17