U.S. Men’s National Team Wins in Three Straight Sets

Aug. 15, 2007, 12 a.m. (ET)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 15, 2007 - In its first round of pool play, the U.S. Men's National Sitting Volleyball team swept Canada 25-17, 25-19, 25-12.

The team was led by captain Brent Rasmussen (Omaha, Neb.), Eric Duda (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Edmond, Okla.) and Edgar LaForest (San Juan, Puerto Rico), who each posted 11 points.

In the opening set, Canada recorded the first point but the U.S. quickly rebounded and with a score of 2-2, made a 6-0 run. Team USA then battled sluggish play and Canada began to fight back. Canada came within one point several times, but the U.S. managed to hold onto its lead and close out the set 25-17.

Starters included Rasmussen, Duda, LaForest, Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.), Chris Seilkop (Deland, Fla.) and Jose Zabala (Carolina, Puerto Rico).

"Nerves seemed to be the biggest issue with how we were playing," said Head Coach Bill Hamiter (Bethany, OK). "We (the coaches) kept trying to push them past that."

The second set was started by Rasmussen, Duda, LaForest, Seilkop, Zabala and Curtis Lease (Naperville, Ill.). The game was a nail biter with seven lead changes and nine ties posted. The U.S. trailed Canada 15-17 when Coach Hamiter inserted Josh Franklin (Tomball, Texas) in as server, which started a 5-0 run and energized the team allowing them to pull away and finish the set 25-19.

"We finally seemed to settle down and play smart ball," Hamiter said. "Josh did a great job. He knows he is our serving specialist and he has to go in there and produce immediately, which he did."

"I've got to do my job and score us points," Franklin said. "Once we start getting momentum, our confidence level goes up and we get more kills, which leads to points."

In the final set, the U.S. was ready to play, scored fast and early, and never looked back. With a score of 22-12, LaForest served the remainder of the set and closed out the match with a final score of 25-12. Overall, LaForest led the team in aces with three. LaForest also posted five kills and three blocks for a total of 11 points.

"I'm improving my serve and am happy all of the work is paying off, " said LaForest. "Between the second and third set we settled down and just came out and played our game."

Those starting in the final set included Johnson, LaForest, Rasmussen, Seilkop, Hugo Storer (Houston, Texas) and Roderick Green (Edmond, Okla.)

The U.S. (1-0) will continue pool play tomorrow against Costa Rica (0-1) who lost earlier in the day to Brazil.

"Costa Rica is an improved team. They played Brazil pretty tough in the first and second sets today," said Hamiter. "If we serve and pass well and get our errors under control, we will be fine. When you control the errors, you control the game."

The U.S. and Costa Rica will play at 9 a.m. (local time) on Thursday, Aug. 16 at Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 3B.

2007 U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball Parapan American Games Roster

No. Name (Position, Hometown)
1 Matt Johnson (L, Lincoln, Neb.)
3 Curtis Lease (MH, Naperville, Ill.)
4 Hugo Storer (OH, Houston, Texas)
5 Eric Duda (OH/MH, Edmond, Okla.)
7 Bradley Johnson (MH, Pompano Beach, Fla.)
8 James Stuck (O/MH, Edmond, Okla.)
9 Roderick Green (OH/MH, Edmond, Okla.)
10 Edgar LaForest (OH, San Juan, Puerto Rico)
12 Brent Rasmussen (OH, Omaha, Neb.)
13 Josh Franklin (OH, Tomball, Texas)
14 Jose Zabala (S/H, Carolina, Puerto Rico)
15 Chris Seilkop (S/H Deland, Fla.)

Head Coach: Bill Hamiter (Bethany, Okla.)
Assistant Coach/Team Leader: Dixie Collins (Marshall, Va.)
Assistant Coach: Edgar Miraku (Edmond, Okla.)

U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball Parapan American Games Schedule and Results
(all times EDT)

Aug. 15: 10 a.m. USA def. Canada, 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-12)
Aug. 16: 8 a.m. United States vs. Costa Rico; Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 3B
Aug. 17:  10 a.m. United States vs. Brazil; Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 3B
Aug. 18: 8 a.m. Semifinal: First vs. Fourth; Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 3B
10 a.m. Semifinal: Second vs. Third; Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 3B
Aug. 19: 8 a.m. Bronze Medal Game; Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 3B
10 a.m. Gold Medal Game; Riocentro Convention Center, Pavilion 3B