China tops Team USA in women's sitting volleyball
LONDON — Team USA knew it would have its hands full opening the London 2012 Paralympic Games women's sitting volleyball competition with China. At the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and the most recent world championship, the two countries met in the gold medal game with China prevailing both times.
But an upset appeared to be brewing in London Friday. Team USA won the first set and won eight of the first 10 points in the second set. The experienced Chinese squad did not panic, and point by point, put themselves in a position to win the second set.
Team USA on the other hand, seemed to feel the pressure and failed to capitalize on a handful of set point opportunities. In the crucial moments of the second set, three consecutive members of Team USA served the ball only to see it land out of bounds. The teams went back and forth before China finally won the set with a score of 32-30. From there, China never looked back and won the third and fourth sets with scores of 25-23 and 25-17 respectively.
"I think the team did well, we came out relaxed and confident and I think we played the game plan we needed to initially," Katie Holloway said. "From there, it broke down a little bit."
The two teams met at the ExCeL in eastern London in front of a near sold-out crowd, many of whom were rooting on Team USA. "We have a huge group of support, each one of us have our family, our parents here and they’ve brought friends," Holloway said.
What started off as a loud crowd turned into a mellow atmosphere when China began to take over. But Team USA fans shouldn’t get too deflated yet – Holloway and teammate Heather Erickson are confident that their team can bounce back from this early defeat.
"We know it’s under our control," Holloway said. "If you look at the stats, it’s our errors that are hurting us the most. Honestly it comes down to service errors, to hitting errors, to just those little defensive errors…"
Team USA errors led to 29 points for China opposed to the 25 points from errors given up by the Chinese.
The Americans will play again Sept. 1 against Slovenia.
Erickson knows that the best of Team USA is still to come.
"We need to work on our serving and work some kinks out of our game," she said. "We can play much, much better. Better is coming."