RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Aug. 18, 2007) - The U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball team concluded a simple three set win over Costa Rica (25-8, 25-7, 25-10) to advance to the gold medal match on Sunday. The No. 1 seed U.S. (4-0) is setting its sights on No. 2 seed Brazil (3-1) to determine who gets to take home the gold and who settles for silver.
After a close match with Brazil the day before, the confident U.S. team easily defeated Costa Rica. Hugo Storer (Houston, Tex.) and Roderick Green (Edmond, Okla.) led the team, scoring 10 points each.
"Sometimes it is difficult to play a team like Costa Rica," said Storer. "But at the same time, you have to keep it up. With these kinds of games, you have to work on your basics in order to better prepare for the next game."
"It means a lot for some of us that are newer to the sport to get to play. It also gets us ready for game situations," Green said. "We were able to practice on different areas and I feel we are definitely ready for tomorrow."
In addition to his 10 points, Storer also led the team in assists with 16. Eric Duda (Edmond, Okla./Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) recorded 10 digs.
Those starting in the first set included Curtis Lease (Naperville, Ill.), Storer, Green, Edgar LaForest (Puerto Rico), Chris Seilkop (Deland, Fla.) and Brent Rasmussen (Omaha, Neb.).
Storer, Lease, and Rasmussen once again started in the second set, along with James Stuck (Edmond, Okla./New Kensington, Pa.), Jose Zabala (Puerto Rico), and Brad Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.). The final set was started by Lease, Stuck, Storer, Green, Duda, and Josh Franklin (Tomball, Texas). Matt Johnson (Omaha, Neb.) was the libero.
"We had to have this match in order to get to the gold medal," said Head Coach Bill Hamiter. "The nice thing about it was we didn't have to have the same intensity or energy as we would have needed in another match."
Now, there is only one match left. A gold medal means a trip to the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, China.
The U.S. beat Brazil on Aug. 17 in three straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 28-26) handing Brazil its only loss during the tournament. The U.S. also beat Brazil in the 2006 Sitting Volleyball World Championships where the U.S. eventually finished ninth.
The World Championships were the only other opportunity to qualify for the Paralympics. The top three teams from that tournament automatically advanced. In total, eight teams are invited to attend the Paralympics in men's sitting volleyball - the top three from Worlds, the host country and a designated team from each zone. For Team USA's zone, the Parapan Am Games determine who gets to go.
"We are confident - we know we can beat Brazil," said Head Coach Bill Hamiter (Bethany, Okla.). "We didn't play one of our best matches when we played Brazil Friday, so now we can line-up all of the positives going into the match.
"The team has worked for three years to go to the Paralympics," added Hamiter. "To go three years for one match - it is huge."
Rasmussen agreed. "Tomorrow's match is a necessity in order to go to Beijing. We have been training for three years for one match. But, we are ready. We are really peaking at the right time."
2007 U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball Parapan Am Games Roster
No. Name Position Current Residence
1 Matt Johnson L Omaha, Neb.
3 Curtis Lease MH Naperville, Ill.
4 Hugo Storer OH Houston, Tex.
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, Tex.
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, Virg.)
Assistant Coach: Edgar Miraku (Edmond, Okla.)
U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball Parapan Am Games Results and Schedule (all times local)
Aug. 15: USA def Canada, 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-12)
Aug. 16: USA def Costa Rica, 3-0 (25-6, 25-10, 25-2)
Aug. 17: USA def Brazil, 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 28-26)
Aug. 18: Semifinal: No. 1 USA def No. 4 Costa Rica, 3-0 (25-8, 25-7, 25-10)
Aug. 18: Semifinal: No. 2 Brazil def No. 3 Canada, 3-0
Aug. 19, 9 a.m.: Bronze Medal: No. 3 Canada vs. No. 4 Costa Rica
Aug. 19, 11 a.m.: Gold Medal: : No. 1 USA vs. No. 4 Brazil