Katie Holloway celebrates at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 29, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Losing is a part of sport, but it wasn’t a part of the U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team’s season.
Team USA capped off an undefeated season by winning the 2019 World ParaVolley Super 6 title, beating reigning world champion Russia, 25-12, 25-18, 25-22, on Sunday in Tokyo. Not only did the U.S. women not lose a match throughout the tournament, going 7-0 en route to claiming the title, but they also did not lose a set.
And not only did they not lose a match at the tournament, they didn’t lose a match all season, wrapping things up with a 25-0 record and a world No. 1 ranking.
The finale of the dominant season by the U.S. women was made even sweeter by sweeping Russia for the third time during the tournament. Russia is the only team that’s beaten the U.S. since the beginning of the 2017 ParaVolley Pan Am Championships in October of that year, and that one blemish giving them a 51-1 record during that time was in the gold-medal match of the World ParaVolley World Championship in 2018.
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Russia also beat the U.S. for the Super 6 title in May 2017. The Super 6 tournament is held every other year.
That’s not to say the tournament was not without its challenges for the U.S., especially the final match. Russia pulled ahead to start the first set before the U.S. went on a 7-0 run to get in the groove. Russia then led twice early in the second set, but again the U.S. was able to respond with a series of offensive runs and well-timed stops to pull ahead for good. Then in the third set, the U.S. trailed by as many as seven points on two different occasions, including 15-8, but with contributions including a trio of kills by Heather Erickson, the U.S. put an end to any attempts to extend the match to a fourth set.
Captain Katie Holloway led the team with 17 points. Kaleo Kanahele Maclay was named tournament MVP and best setter, Erickson was named best attacker, Bethany Zummo was best libero and Monique Burkland was named best server.
The tournament was a test run of sorts for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, where the U.S. will defend its gold medal won in 2016 in Rio.
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.