ORLANDO, Florida (May 29, 2016) – Tied 24-24 in a fourth set and trailing Russia two sets to one, the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team had little room for error.
A Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Washington) kill gave the Americans a small lead, before Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Florida) aced the Russians for a fourth set win.
The U.S. dominated the fifth set, taking the match 25-17, 15-25, 20-25, 26-24, 15-7, simultaneously winning the five-match series 3-2.
“It was a good match to finish with, and I though overall everyone did well, especially since we had a mix of players on the court,” Head Coach Bill Hamiter said.
The teams traded leads early in the match before the U.S. used consistent blocking and capitalized on Russian errors to pull ahead. However, the visitors returned the favor in the second set, carefully placing shots to frustrate the American defense.
Hamiter changed his line-up each set, allowing multiple players to shine. Holloway led the team with a match-high 21 points (12 kills, seven digs, two aces), helping the Americans out-block their opponent 18-8. Although Russia totaled more kills (47 to the U.S. 37), Hamiter praised the net defense in the win.
“All series long they’ve out-blocked us by one or two, but today we really stepped it up,” he added.
Additionally, the U.S. limited errors late in the match, committing just three in the fifth set.
Captain Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina) and Nieves totaled 11 and 10 kills, respectively, while Kaleo Kanahele (Edmond, Oklahoma) and Lora Webster (Phoenix, Arizona) led the team behind the service line with six and three aces, respectively.
The U.S. now turns its focus to the Netherlands Open from July 1-3. Five of the eight Paralympic-bound teams will compete – Brazil, China, Russia, Ukraine and the United States – alongside Slovenia and Netherlands. For Hamiter and his staff, it will be one final chance to fine-tune the line-up before the Rio de Janeiro Games in September.
“We felt that after Saturday’s match we really had a good amount of film on everyone, so now we’ll review it and start making some decisions,” he said. “It was good to see them executing and winning (today) when we had a mix of experienced and some of our younger players, even though Russia wasn’t wanting to switch out of their stating line-ups.”
U.S. Starters on Sunday:
Middle Blockers: Michelle Schiffler, Nicky Nieves
Outside Hitters: Courtney Baker, Katie Holloway
Setters: Kaleo Kanahele, Lexi Shifflett
Libero: Kari Miller
U.S. Statistics on Saturday, Match 1:
Kills: Holloway 13, Heather Erickson 11, Nieves 10, Shifflett 3, Kanahele 1
Blocks: Holloway 7, Schiffler 3, Shifflett 3, Nieves 2, Lora Webster 2, Nichole Millage 1
Aces: Kanahele 6, Webster 3, Holloway 2, Shifflett 1, Schiffler 1, Erickson 1, Nieves 1, Tia Edwards 1, Baker 1