Women's Sitting Team Downs China, Loses to Russia

By Bill Kauffman | March 14, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

DENVER, Colo. (March 14, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team split a pair matches against top world foes on Friday to open the Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge being held at the Colorado Convention Center.

Team USA, ranked second in the world, started the day by winning the opening set against No. 5 Russia, but errors started to pile up and the reigning European champions came back to win in four sets. The U.S. rebounded in the second match to sweep top-ranked China, which has won the last three Paralympic Games. The American victory over the Chinese marks the second consecutive win in the series going back to the U.S. win at the Moscow Cup in August 2013.

“We had a long day today, two matches with two tough teams,” U.S. Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. “We lost to Russia. Basically we had too many unforced errors on our side. We followed that up with a really nice match with China, beating them in three. I think the big turnaround was we just seemed way more settled and more comfortable with what was happening and just executed. The results stood for themselves.”

Russia defeated Team USA 21-25, 25-19, 28-26, 25-16 in the second match of the tournament. Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) and Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) had matching 12 points. Abby Mueller (Houston, Texas) and Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) added seven points each. Russia took advantage of its blocking reach with a 24-14 block advantage and out-served the USA 17-6 in aces. View match stats here.

In its second match of the day, Team USA earned a 25-23, 25-20, 25-17 victory over China with Erickson and Burkland leading the way with 13 points each. Burkland tallied six of the team's seven aces in the match. Katie Holloway added eight points. Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) charted a 50 percent positive reception, handling 24 of the team's 52 receptions. China out-blocked the USA 15-9, but the Americans' 42 kill percent was 13 percent better than the Chinese for the match. View match stats here.

“Today we struggled against Russia and then pulled a great turnaround against China, and that felt amazing,” Holloway said. “That makes you realize that is all under our control. We are the ones basically playing, and it us who has to change and it is nobody else. If we were flat out losing, that would be one thing. But since we turned it around from the first team to the second team, we realized it was all about us.”

The U.S. will face ParaPan zone region rival Brazil at 11 a.m. MT on Saturday morning before having a rematch with Russia at 6 p.m. MT. Team USA concludes the Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge on Sunday at 8 a.m. MT versus China.

All Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge matches can be viewed online for free at www.coachesaid.com/channel.aspx?channel=104.

The four-team Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge is being held in conjunction with the Colorado Crossroads, the first junior national qualifier into the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships.

U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team Roster
1 – Lora Webster (Phoenix, Ariz.)
2 – Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.)
3 – Lexi Shifflet (Waseca, Minn.)
4 – Michelle Schiffler (Lake Wales, Fla.)
5 – Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.)
6 – Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.)
7 – Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.)
8 – Angela DeHaan Palacio (Sacramento, Calif.)
9 – Abby Mueller (Houston, Texas)
13 – Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.)
14 – Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
16 – Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Fla.)
Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coaches: Cara Lang, Quinton Kraeer
Team Manager: Elliot Blake
Therapist/Trainer: Kazuma Akehi
Doctor: Laura Finch
Statistician: Jeff Hicks

Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge Schedule (all times MT)

March 14 (Session 1)
China def. Brazil 25-12, 25-10, 25-17
Russia def. USA 21-25, 25-19, 28-26, 25-16

March 14 (Session 2)
Russia def. Brazil 25-21, 25-11, 25-22
USA def. China 25-23, 25-20, 25-17

March 15 (Session 3)
China vs. Russia at 9 a.m.
USA vs. Brazil at 11 a.m.

March 15 (Session 4)
Brazil vs. China at 4 p.m.
USA vs. Russia at 6 p.m.

March 16 (Session 5)
USA vs. China at 8 a.m.
Brazil vs. Russia at 10 a.m.