COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 21, 2017) – The U.S. girls’ team competing in the first sitting volleyball competition to be held at a Youth Parapan American Games opened its first day of competition on Tuesday in Sao Paulo with a win over Venezuela, 25-22, 25-19.

The two teams played an additional third set with Venezuela winning 25-14.  All the sitting volleyball matches at the Games will include a third set to increase the competitive opportunities for the teams.

“The girls came out a little on the nervous side, probably because this was their first experience at an international event,” U.S. Head Coach Elliot Blake said. “Once we shook those nerves loose, we started to play in the system we had been developing in the few practice days we had in Oklahoma and Brazil. Venezuela has a couple of young, talented players and our girls did a great job of adjusting our defensive coverage for their style of play.

Alyssa Cleland and Annie Flood provided the team with strong attacking and serving, Blake said, while Nina McVay and Autum Reagan provided setting and hustle.

“I never would have thought that I’d have the opportunity to compete at an international event. So far this has been a really amazing experience,” said Cleland, the team’s captain. “To come out and win our first match was great. We know we have another tough opponent tomorrow in Brazil, but we are confident that we are up for the challenge.

“To see this many athletes competing in the variety of sports that are here is truly inspiring,” Cleland added. “To think that each of us is working to pursue those Paralympic dreams, I know that I will have to only train harder if I am every to be fortunate to make it. I will though never forget this experience and the awesome new friends I have made thus far.”

On Wednesday, the United States will face a tough Brazilian team that features their women’s sitting national team libero, Duda Dias, who won bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

U.S. Roster for Youth Parapan American Games
Alyssa Cleland (Edmond, Okla.)
Annie Flood (Salem, Ore.)
Autum Reagan (Wellington, Kan.)
Nina McVay (Mooresville, N.C.)

Head Coach: Elliot Blake
Athletic Trainer: Lauren Chamness

Competition Schedule (All times local)
March 21
Brazil def. Venezuela, 3-0
USA def. Venezuela, 2-1

March 22
1 p.m. Brazil v USA
5:30 p.m. Venezuela v Brazil

March 23
1 p.m. Venezuela v USA
5:30 p.m. Brazil v USA

March 24
1:30 p.m. Final, No. 1 v No. 2