2008 PARALYMPIC GAMES - SITTING VOLLEYBALL: Women's Team Ready to Improve on Bronze Medal Performance in 2004

Sept. 06, 2008, 12:51 p.m. (ET)
BEIJING, China - The U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball team returns to the Paralympic Games in hopes of improving its bronze medal finish from the 2004 Games.  It was there, at the first-ever women's sitting volleyball Paralympic competition, the Americans beat Slovenia 3-1 (25-20, 10-25, 25-18, 25-20) at Helleniko Olympic Complex in Athens, Greece.

The U.S. returns six athletes from the 2004 squad including Allison Aldrich (Schuyler, Neb.), Lora Webster (Cave Creek Ariz./Edmond, Okla.), Kendra Lancaster (Sheridan, Ind.), Gina McWilliams (Dallas, Tex.), Hope Lewellen (Palos Park, Ill.), and Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.).

The team arrived in Beijing on September 1 and began practices the following day, practicing each day since. They were unable to get to the actual competition venue (China Agricultural University Gymnasium) for practice until Friday, September 5.

"Practices have gotten better every day," said Head Coach Mike Hulett (Chicago, Ill.). "We have focused on the basics and focused on getting used to the venue, which is going to be a great volleyball facility."

The U.S. will begin pool play competition on September 7, the first day of the Paralympics, taking on Lithuania at 09:30. The U.S. is 1-1 against Lithuania, losing to them at the Disabled Volleyball World Championships in 2006, but then redeeming itself at the inaugural Intercontinental Cup in Egypt earlier this year, beating them in three straight sets.

"We are prepared, finished with practice, and ready to compete," said Team Captain Brenda Maymon ( Sellersburg, Ind.). "Our goal is to win the gold and we certainly think we can. With our experience and the team morale we have, we are ready to take care of business."

The youngest of the players and first time Paralympian, 15-year old Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) added "I'm so excited about this match because it will give us the opportunity to show to the world how good we have gotten this summer. We are ready to go."

After the initial day, Team USA will have a day of rest before competing against host country and no. 2 seed China at 17:30 on Tuesday, September 9. On the final day of pool play competition, the U.S. will play Latvia at 13:30. Once pool play has concluded, the teams will be seeded according to records for the semi-final games. The complete roster and schedule is listed below.

U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Olympic Roster

#          Name (Hometown, Current Residence)

11        Allison Aldrich (Schuyler, Neb.)

6          Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.)

18        Alex Gouldie (St. Paul, Neb.)

5          Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash./Edmond, Okla.)

7          SuGui Kriss (Ravena, N.Y.)

15        Kendra Lancaster (Sheridan, Ind.)

8          Hope Lewellen (Palos Park, Ill.)

3          Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.)

9          Gina McWilliams (Dallas, Tex.)

13        Nicholle Millage (Champaign, Ill./Edmond, Okla.)

10        Kari Miller (Washington, D.C./Edmond, Okla.)

1          Lora Webster (Cave Creek Ariz./Edmond, Okla.)

Head Coach: Mike Hulett (Chicago, Ill.)

Assistant Coach: Denise Van deWalle (Bowling Green, Ohio)

Team Leader: Roger Neppl (Evergreen, Colo.)

Women's 2008 Paralympic Games Sitting Volleyball Schedule

Date; Time; Teams; Venue

September 7, 2008; 9:30; USA vs. Lithuania; China Agricultural University Gymnasium

September 9, 2008; 17:30; USA vs. China; China Agricultural University Gymnasium

September 10, 2008; 13:30; USA vs. Latvia; China Agricultural University Gymnasium

September 11, 12, 13; various; classification and semi-final matches; China Agricultural University Gymnasium

September 14; 16:00; Bronze Medal Match, China Agricultural University 18:00; Gold Medal Match, China Agricultural University

For more information or to arrange an athlete interview, please contact Katrina Shaklee at 13910754730 (if calling from the U.S., dial 011 86 plus the local number).

Daily video highlights of the 2008 Paralympic Games are available at http://www.usparalympics.org/ and http://www.universalsports.com/.