U.S. Sitting Women Down No. 1 China Again

By Bill Kauffman | March 16, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

DENVER, Colo. (March 16, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team defeated three-time reigning Paralympic Games champion China for the second time in the Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge Sunday morning at the Colorado Convention Center.

The U.S., ranked second in the sitting volleyball world rankings, handled top-ranked China 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 25-17 to conclude the tournament. Team USA finished the Challenge with a 4-1 record and was the only team with one loss. After falling to Russia in the opening session, the Americans came back to defeat Brazil, Russia in the rematch and China twice. Team USA, which has now defeated China three straight times dating back to the 2013 Moscow Cup title match, handed the Chinese both their losses in this weekend's Challenge.

Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) scored a match-high 14 points with 13 kills on 28 attacks and a block. Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) chipped in 13 points with nine kills on 18 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Lora Webster (Phoenix, Ariz.), who came off the bench in the second set, notched 11 points with six kills, a match-high four blocks and an ace.

Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) tacked on seven points which included five aces. She rallied the U.S. from a 17-10 deficit in the third set with an 11-point serving run that carried on the momentum the rest of the match. Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Fla.) added five points in the opening set alone. Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.) pocketed four points, while Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Michelle Schiffler (Lake Wales, Fla.) each totaled three points. Angela DeHaan Palacio (Sacramento, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with two points in the middle two sets.

Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) recorded a 62 positive reception percent on a team-best 29 receptions, while Erickson held a 73 positive reception percent on 11 chances. Webster handled 10 receptions with an 80 positive percent.

Lexi Shifflett (Waseca, Minn.) started the first three sets and handled a majority of the setting duties. Other starters were Shiffler, Holloway, Erickson, Burkland and Nieves.

The four-team Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge was 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 def. Russia 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-12
USA def. Brazil 25-17, 25-10, 25-21

March 15 (Session 4)
China def. Brazil 30-28, 28-26, 25-21
USA def. Russia 25-22, 25-18, 21-25, 24-26, 15-10

March 16 (Session 5)
USA def. China 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 25-17
Russia def. Brazil 25-11, 25-22, 25-15