The U.S. women's sitting volleyball team pose for a photo at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 28, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
When you look back over the U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team’s schedule from 2019, you realize one thing very quickly.
They didn’t lose this year.
From the Colorado Crossroads Exhibition Series in March right on up through the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 in August and the Super 6 tournament in November, every date the team played is followed by the words “United States” and “defeated,” then whichever nation happened to be on the losing end.
The U.S. women won 25 matches. To say it was a dominant 2019 is a bit of an understatement.
One of the biggest competitions on that calendar was, of course, the Parapan American Games. The U.S. came in as defending champion, having won in 2015, and as the top-ranked team in the world. With that comes pressure and expectations as well as every opponent’s best effort trying to knock off the champs, but none had any success.
Not only did the U.S. go undefeated with a 5-0 record, but it also lost just one set the entire tournament, and that was in the preliminary phase.
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Monique Burkland, Tia Edwards, Heather Erickson, Katie Holloway, Kaleo Kanahele Maclay, Nichole Millage, Nicole Nieves, Sydney Satchell, Lexi Shifflett, Lora Webster, Jillian Williams and Bethany Zummo took the team to a second consecutive tournament title with a 25-16, 25-19, 25-13 win over No. 3 Brazil, and while a win also carried with it a spot at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, the U.S. had already qualified the summer before, so that place went to Brazil.
From there it was on to the World Super 6 tournament in Tokyo, where the team got to spend some time in the city that will host the Paralympic Games next summer.
Once again, the Americans were undefeated at 7-0 and this time they didn’t even drop a set. The roster included Burkland, Edwards, Erickson, Holloway, Kanahele Maclay, Millage, Nieves, Shifflett, Williams and Zummo, in addition to Emma Schieck and Annie Flood. Maclay was MVP and best setter while Erickson was best attacker, Zummo was named best libero and Burkland best server.
The team also made friends with a volunteer named Taiki, who helped them warm up and eventually grew into a crowd favorite who got some media attention and made some fans of his own en route to being named best volunteer and appointed flag bearer during the award ceremony. He’s been invited to visit the team in the U.S.
A year without a single loss and making new friends along the way made 2019 one of the best years ever for the U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.