COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 27, 2017) – USA Volleyball has entered a women’s youth sitting volleyball team into the 2017 Youth Parapan American Games set to be played March 20-25 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
U.S. athletes competing in the event are Alyssa Cleland (Edmond, Oklahoma), Annie Flood (Salem, Oregon), Autum Reagan (Wellington, Kansas) and Nina McVay (Mooresville, North Carolina). Elliot Blake, manager of sitting volleyball teams for USA Volleyball, will serve as the head coach for the team.
Unlike the sitting volleyball game played at the Paralympics utilizing six players on the court per team, the Youth Parapan American Games will use a modified version with a 3 versus 3 format. This year marks the first Youth Parapan American Games featuring sitting volleyball.
“Being that this is the first youth sitting volleyball event being held, and our first youth team, our number-one priority is to develop an appropriate system of play in this 3 versus 3 format,” Blake said. “With the reduced size of the court, we will have to be smarter about our attack shots and serving since we are losing a full meter of court depth, and two meters crosscourt. Ball control and team chemistry will be our second priority in our list of things to focus on.”
Cleland, who at age 19 is the oldest among the four-person squad, has been a resident athlete of the Sitting Volleyball Resident Athlete Training program since August 2015. Flood, McVay and Reagan are all relatively new to the U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball A2 developmental program. Flood, the youngest at age 13, has attended two sitting team training camps since being identified last July. Reagan was identified last June and has been to three training camps. McVay contacted the U.S. National Sitting Team program last spring and has attended two camps.
The 3v3 format will be played on a court eights meters long and four meters wide. According to Elliot, the three-team field will play a double-round robin bracket before reaching the medal round bracket.
“With the uncertainty of who will comprise the other teams, it’s impossible to say what we think our chances are,” Elliot said. “We do though expect to play some great volleyball and challenge our opponents in every match.”
Elliot, who also serves as the technical officer of the ParaVolley Pan American Zone, sees one other objective for the tournament beyond the development of the four U.S. players who will compete in Brazil, and that is to help spur overall growth of sitting volleyball in the Parapan American zone.
“We hope to be good stewards of the game, hoping to encourage other countries to develop their youth programs for the future so that we can have regular youth competition events,” Elliot said.
Around 1,000 athletes, ages 12-21 years old, are expected to compete in the fourth edition of the Youth Parapan American Games, an increase on the 631 youngsters who took part in the 2013 Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Games will be organized by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee and the majority of sport events will be held at their new Paralympic Training Centre in Sao Paulo.
U.S. Roster for Youth Parapan American Games
Alyssa Cleland (Edmond, Oklahoma)
Annie Flood (Salem, Oregon)
Autum Reagan (Wellington, Kansas)
Nina McVay (Mooresville, North Carolina)
Head Coach: Elliot Blake
Athletic Trainer: Lauren Chamness