U.S. Sitting Women's Volleyball Team Opens Paralympics with Victory

Sept. 08, 2008, 12:05 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org  

Katrina Shaklee of the University of Central Oklahoma contributed to this release

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 7, 2008)  –  The U.S. Sitting Women’s Volleyball Team opened the 2008 Paralympic Games by sweeping Lithuania, 25-15, 25-18, 25-9, on Sunday at the China Agricultural University Gymnasium in Beijing.

Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) led the United States in scoring with 13 points on a match-high eight kills, three blocks and two aces. Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) and Kendra Lancaster (Sheridan, Ind.) each added 10 points. Erickson scored on six kills, three aces and one block. Lancaster scored on seven kills, two aces and one block.

“It was very overwhelming at first – very surreal,” said Erickson, 15, who is the youngest player on the team. “Once I got past that, I was able to calm down and play.”

Lancaster added, “We have talked about what to expect but it is overwhelming - especially the crowd we had at 9:30 in the morning. We were fabulous after a little bit of a rough start. Everyone played great.”

Among other scorers, Lora Webster (Cave Creek, Ariz.) had six points, including a match-high four blocks. Allison Aldrich (Schuyler, Neb.) added five points. Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.) totaled four points and team captain Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.) scored three.

U.S. Head Coach Mike Hulett (Des Plaines, Ill.) started Erickson, Aldrich, Maymon, Holloway, Lancaster and Webster. Millage played for Maymon in the third set. Hope Lewellen (Palos Park, Ill.) and Gina McWilliams (The Colony, Texas) both played as substitutes.

In the first set, Team USA never trailed, but some Paralympic newcomers made nervous mistakes. Veterans from the 2004 squad took control and settled the rookies. At 15-12, Maymon scored a kill, which was followed by a technical timeout. Once back on the floor, the United States found its groove and allowed Lithuania to score only three more points. At 21-15, Lithuania took a timeout to regroup. But with Holloway serving, and Lancaster providing a great set followed by a kill, Team USA closed the set 25-15.

Lithuania scored the first point of set two. Team USA answered with a short run to lead 4-1. The two teams battled, but the U.S. managed to pull away. At 20-10, the team looked to put Lithuania away. Lithuania would not give up, and went on several small runs trying to close the gap. With the score at 24-18, Erickson scored a kill that ended the set.

In the third and final set, Team USA led 8-5 following the technical timeout. With Webster serving, the enthusiastic U.S. team broke free and scored five unanswered points. Lithuania served once before Team USA got the ball back; this time going on a 7-0 run, making the score 20-6. Lithuania could not regain any momentum and the United States won 25-9.

“We started out with too much adrenaline,” Holloway said. “But I think we are ready for China now. We just need to stay cool, calm, and collected.”

The U.S. (1-0) will face no. 2 seed China (1-0) at 17:30 on Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the China Agricultural University Gymnasium. China defeated Latvia on Sunday, 3-0.

“We will get a chance to watch them (China) today,” Hulett said. “I am ready to see them now and then again in the gold medal match.”

There will be daily live and delayed highlight shows of the Paralympic Games on Sept. 6-17, on www.UniversalSports.com and www.usparalympics.org, and there will be a special NBC broadcast on Oct. 18.

U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team
Allison Aldrich (Schuyler, Neb.)
Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Alex Gouldie (St. Paul, Neb.)
Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.)
SuGui Kriss (Ravena, N.Y.)
Kendra Lancaster (Westfield, Ind.)
Hope Lewellen (Palos Park, Ill.)
Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.)
Gina McWilliams (The Colony, Texas)
Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.)
Kari Miller (Washington D.C.)
Lora Webster (Cave Creek, Ariz.)

Head Coach: Mike Hulett (Des Plaines, Ill.)
Assistant Coach: Denise Van De Walle (Bowling Green, Ohio)
Assistant Coach: Cara Bartolic (Sartell, Minn.)
Team Leader: Roger Neppl (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Women’s Sitting Volleyball Paralympic Teams:

1. China as host nation (No. 2 at 2006 World Championship)
2. Netherlands as No. 1 of 2006 World Championship
3. Slovenia as No. 3 of 2006 World Championship
4. Lithuania as No. 4 of 2006 World Championships
5. USA, replacing Afro Arab CVD Champion as No. 5 of 2006 World Championships
5. Ukraine, replacing Pan American CVD Champion as No. 6 of 2006 World Championship
6. Japan as No. 2 of Asia Oceania CVD Championship
7. Latvia as No. 5 of European CVD Championship

Competition Results and Schedule:

Day 1 Sunday: (9/7)
USA def. Lithuania, 25-15, 25-18, 25-9
Netherlands def. Japan, 25-4, 25-21, 25-18
China def. Latvia, 25-4, 25-7, 25-16

Day 2 Monday: (9/8)
09:30-11:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match4 - SLO-JPN
13:30-15:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match5 - NED-UKR
17:30-19:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match6 - CHN-LTU

Day 3 Tuesday: (9/9)
09:30-11:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match7 - UKR-SLO
13:30-15:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match8 - LTU-LAT
17:30-19:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match9 - CHN-USA

Day 4 Wednesday: (9/10)
09:30-11:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match10 - UKR-JPN
13:30-15:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match11 - USA-LAT
17:30-19:00 Women's Team Preliminaries - Match12 - SLO-NED

Day 5 Thursday: (9/11)
10:00-11:30 Women's Team 5-8
16:00-17:30 Women's Team 5-8

Day 6 Friday: (9/12)
10:00-11:30 Women's Team Semifinal 1
16:00-17:30 Women's Team Semifinal 2

Day 7 Saturday: (9/13)
10:00-11:30 Women's Team 7-8
16:00-17:30 Women's Team 5-6

Day 8 Sunday: (9/14)
16:00-17:30 Women's Team Bronze Medal
18:00-19:30 Women's Team Gold Medal Match
19:45-20:05 Women's Gold Medal Ceremony