LONDON — The U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team claimed their second win of the 2012 London Paralympic Games, sweeping Brazil in three sets (25-13, 25-20, 25-19) Monday at ExCel. The game was the final match of the preliminary round and qualifies the U.S. for the semifinals.
The U.S. took control of the match early, though both teams entered the evening evenly matched. Earlier in the tournament both teams had lost to world-ranked No. 1 China (the United States is currently ranked second), but came back to win against Slovenia.
Katie Holloway leads the U.S. in scoring through three games. She acknowledged the talent of her teammates after their win, saying that the mixture of veterans and newcomers makes the team stronger.
“We’ve got a good group that knows what the Paralympics are about,” Holloway said. “We’ve got good serving by Michelle (Gerlosky) who is brand new, Monique (Burkland) who works really hard in the middle, and Kaleo (Kanahele), a great setter, mixed in with all our veteran group that can hold together strong. I think this makes for a good match up to win gold.”
Another top scorer for the U.S. is Heather Erickson, who first attended the Paralympic Games four years ago at age 15. She says this time around she is more confident and knows what to expect. “My mind is in a way better place,” Erickson said. “I don’t freak out when I make a mistake. I stay calm throughout the game and I’m able to help my teammates by staying calm.”
It’s clear to see that Team USA has a strong connection on and off the floor. Like Holloway, Erickson says the team has the ability to go far.
“I know that my team has the skills to do anything,” she said. “We’ve had a few tournaments that have proven that to me. The main thing that I can see that I personally can do for the team is when we’re in those ruts and when we’re down… the positive talk and helping each other out. Telling everybody to take a deep breath, we’re fine, and move on to the next point.
“We have the skills to do wonderful things,” Erickson added.
In their next contest, the U.S. will face the Ukraine, ranked third. Coach William Hamiter says he doesn’t think his team pays much attention to the rankings.
“It’s more of, we know what we have to do, let’s get it done,” he said. “That’s kind of the focus.”
Still, Ukraine is a familiar team, which should help the U.S. prepare for their approach to the match on Wednesday.
Team USA also faced No. 3 Ukraine in Shanghai, China, in July, capturing one victory over the three days. In the bronze medal match of the 2010 WOVD World Championships, Ukraine defeated Netherlands, silver medalists in Athens and bronze medalists in Beijing.
“We’ve had some good battles over the quad,” Hamiter said. “I think both teams kind of know what to expect, so it’ll be another good match.”