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Kaleo Kanahele Maclay setting in the finale of the Crossroads Sitting Volleyball exhibition matches in Denver

DENVER, Colo. (March 9, 2020) – The U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball National Team, ranked No. 1 in the world, absorbed its first loss of the season as No. 6 Russia won 14-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-20 in the finale of the Colorado Crossroads exhibitions on Monday in Denver, Colorado.

In the process, Team USA’s 29-match win streak dating back to the start of the 2019 season was snapped as Russia was the last time to defeat the Americans in the 2018 season-finale at the World ParaVolley World Championship gold-medal match. The U.S. is 55-2 over its last 58 matches with both losses to Russia, and that included 10 consecutive wins over Russia between the two losses.

The Americans ended the Crossroads exhibitions with a 4-1 record while Russia was 4-2, including a three-set win over Brazil (0-5) earlier on Monday.

“Overall it was a good weekend,” U.S. Women’s Sitting National Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. “Our goals were to get ready for Tokyo, and collect a lot of data on players so we can make selections for the Tokyo roster. Our players all know that we can be beat if we don’t play at our potential. I thought our players played overall very, very well for the first matches of the year.”

The U.S. started all 14 of its players suited for the Crossroads exhibition matches with each player having at least one set started. In contrast, Russia maintained its starting lineup the entire match and used two minimally disabled athletes at the same time, which is not standard protocols in sitting volleyball.

“Partly what we weren’t able to see, Russia was playing with two minimals all the time,” Hamiter said. “We are not seeing their actual lineup that they will be playing. It helped us because they played better so we had to push harder, but it hurts us as far as systems they play in an actual match. It is a pro-con situation.”

The U.S. started the match strong with a 25-14 victory in the opening set. However, Team USA fought hard in each of the next three sets to maintain consistency with every player having the opportunity compete and be evaluated for potential roster spots in the upcoming Paralympic Games this summer.

Nichole Millage (Champaign, Illinois), starting her first match of Team USA’s five exhibition matches at Crossroads, led the Americans with 11 points overall with seven kills on nine swings, two blocks and two aces. Monique Burkland Matthews (Ardmore, Oklahoma), Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Florida) and Tia Edwards (Skiatook, Oklahoma) all compiled seven points. Lora Webster (Point Lookout, New York) chipped in three kills on four swings and a team-best three blocks in two sets.

Jillian Williams (Odem, Texas) added three blocks and two aces for five points. Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina) totaled four kills. Maddy Ball (Delray Beach, California, playing in her first official match (was a sub in a bonus fourth set against Russia on March 7), tallied a kill and block for two points in the second set. Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Washington) and Annie Flood (Salem, Oregon) rounded out the scoring with one point each.

“We had players like Annie, she did an outstanding job at the setters position,” Hamiter said. “We got some players who have been around a little, but who are newer like Jillian. I thought Jillian played outstanding this tournament. Maddy Ball played her first matches against high-power teams. We are seeing a lot of positive things.”

Russia out-blocked the Americans 22-13 and held a 39-32 margin in kills. The visitors managed an 8-6 edge in aces.

Stats USA vs Russia

Points: Nichole Millage 11, Tia Edwards 7, Nicky Nieves 7, Monique Burkland Matthews 7, Lora Webster 6, Jillian Williams 5, Heather Erickson 4, Maddy Ball 2, Annie Flood 1
Kills: Nichole Millage 7, Nicky Nieves 6, Monique Burkland Matthews 5, Heather Erickson 4, Tia Edwards 4, Lora Webster 3, Jillian Williams 2, Maddy Ball 1
Blocks: Jillian Williams 3, Nichole Millage 2, Tia Edwards 2, MaddyBall 1, Monique Burkland 1, Nicole Nieves 1
Aces: Nichole Millage 2, Katie Holloway 1, Monique Burkland Matthews 1, Annie Flood 1, Tia Edwards 1

U.S. Women’s National Sitting Team Roster for Crossroads Exhibitions
# – Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
1 – Lora Webster (Middle, 5-11, Point Lookout, N.Y.)
2 – Bethany Zummo (Libero, 5-3, Dublin, Calif.)
3 – Lexi Shifflett (Setter, 5-4, Waseca, Minn.)
4 – Maddy Ball (Outside Hitter, 5-7, Delray Beach, Fla.)
5 – Katie Holloway (Outside Hitter, 6-3, Lake Stevens, Wash.)
6 – Heather Erickson (Opposite, 5-11, Fayetteville, N.C.)
7 – Monique Burkland Matthews (Middle/Outside Hitter, 6-0, Ardmore, Okla.)
10 – Sydney Satchell (Libero, 5-2, Oklahoma City, Okla.)
11 – Jillian Williams (Middle/Opposite, 5-10, Odem, Texas)
13 – Nichole Millage (Opposite/Setter, 5-7, Champaign, Ill.)
14 – Kaleo Kanahele Maclay (Setter, 5-6, Honolulu, Hawaii)
15 – Annie Flood (S/OPP, 5-8, Salem, Ore.)
16 – Nicole Nieves (Middle/Outside Hitter, 5-10, Kissimmee, Fla.)
17 – Tia Edwards (Outside Hitter/Middle, 5-7, Skiatook, Okla.)

Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coach: Michelle Goodall
Assistant Coach: Jon Aharoni
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Young
Technical Coordinator: Jeffrey Hicks
Event Manager: Elliot Blake
Team Leader: Mark Herrin

Colorado Crossroads Exhibitions Results

Saturday, March 7
USA def Russia 25-18, 25-16, 25-23 (USA wins bonus set 25-20)
Russia def. Brazil 25-19, 25-19, 25-18
USA def Brazil 25-14, 24-26, 25-16, 20-25, 15-4

Sunday, March 8
USA def Russia 23-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-21
USA def Brazil 25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21
Russia def Brazil 23-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-12

Monday, March 9
Russia def Brazil 25-18, 25-16, 25-20
Russia def USA 14-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-20