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U.S. Women's Sitting Team Aces Cuba at Parapan

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 10, 2015, 4:39 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 10, 2015) – The U.S. Parapan Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team, ranked third in the world, downed Cuba 25-8, 25-5, 25-10 Monday afternoon with 29 aces on the second day of Parapan American Games pool play in Toronto, Canada.

Team USA, already qualified for next summer’s 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, closes out the preliminary round on Tuesday against Brazil at 7 p.m. ET. After an off day, the semifinals will take place on Aug. 13 with the medal round matches on Aug. 14. This year marks the first time women’s sitting volleyball has been contested at the Parapan American Games.

The U.S. held advantages of 29-0 in aces for the match and 4-2 in blocks. The Americans out-scored the Cubans 22-4 in kills and managed a 21-10 dig margin.

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"We served and passed well again tonight," U.S. Parapan Women's Sitting Volleyball Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. "We are tough to beat when that happens. I was impressed again by the play of our newer players. I'm proud of their development and execution."

U.S. captain Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) paced the American offense with a match-high 13 points via five kills on seven attacks, seven aces and a block. Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) contributed 11 points with seven aces, three kills on five attacks and a block. Angela Palacio (Yuba City, Calif.), who started the second set after coming off the bench in the first set, totaled eight points with seven kills and a kill.

"Cuba was very scrappy for a newer program," Burkland said. "They helped prepare us for a different style of game and made us stay alert. The team is meshing together and it is good to see our new players contributing to our wins in a major way."

Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) pocketed three kills on six swings and two aces for five points. Lexi Shifflett (Waseca, Minn.), Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill) and Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Fla.) all collected four points in the victory. strong>Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Tia Edwards (Skiatook, Okla.) each tallied three points.

Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) started the match at libero and collected one dig and one excellent reception before yielding the position to Kari Miller (Washington, D.C.), who did not pick up a single dig or reception attempt in the final two sets. Courtney Baker (Crofton, Ky.) was a sub in the third set.

The setting combination of Kanahele and Shifflett produced a 55.0 kill percent with a .425 hitting efficiency (22-5-40). Kanahele was credited with 12 running sets on 12 set attempts, while Shifflett charted seven running sets on eight attempts. Meanwhile, the American defense limited Cuba to a 18.2 kill percent and negative .136 hitting efficiency (4-7-22).

The U.S. reached the opening set’s first technical timeout with a commanding 8-3 advantage, benefiting from four early Cuban errors. Team USA jumped the gap to 16-4 with seven unanswered points heading into the second technical timeout. After the teams traded a few points, the Americans closed out the set with four unanswered at 25-8. Erickson and Palacio tallied four points apiece as seven different U.S. players reached the scoring column. Team USA converted nine of 15 attacks for points with Kanahele setting to go with seven aces in the set, three of which were from DeHaan off the bench. Cuba scored just two points without the benefit of an American error.

Team USA reached a 5-0 advantage in the second set with four points off aces from Erickson. After Cuba cut the gap to 6-2, the Americans scored 10 straight points to take a 16-2 lead that included three more aces from Palacio. Team USA widened its advantage to 23-3 with seven consecutive points before closing out the set at 25-5. Erickson scored five points in the set as Team USA notched 12 aces in the middle frame. Shifflett set the Americans to a 62.5 kill percent (5-of-8) in the second set. Cuba scored just one points without an American error in the set.

The U.S. inched its way to an 8-4 lead at the third set’s opening technical timeout. With the score at 10-5, the Americans started to pull away with four answered points to take a 14-5 advantage. The U.S. cruised into the final score of 25-10. Team USA recorded eight kills on 17 attacks in the third set with both setters, Shifflett and Kanahele, on the court at the same time. The American offense netted 10 aces in the third set and used six Cuba errors in the period.

U.S. Parapan American Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team Roster
#- Name (Position, Hometown, Height)
2 – Bethany Zummo (L, Dublin, Calif., 5-2)
3 – Lexi Shifflett (S, Waseca, Minn., 5-4)
5 – Katie Holloway (OH, Lake Stevens, Wash., 6-3)
6 – Heather Erickson (OH, Fayetteville, N.C., 5-11)
7 – Monique Burkland (MB, Ardmore, Okla., 5-9)
8 – Angela Palacio (OH, Yuba City, Calif., 5-8)
10 – Kari Miller (L, Washington, D.C., 5-6)
13 – Nichole Millage (OPP, Champaign, Ill., 5-8)
14 – Kaleo Kanahele (S, Oklahoma City, Okla., 5-6)
16 – Nicky Nieves (MB/OH, Kissimmee, Fla., 5-8)
17 – Tia Edwards (OH/MB, Skiatook, Okla., 5-7)
18 – Courtney Baker (OPP, Crofton, Ky., 5-8)

Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coach: Lazaro Beltran
Assistant Coach/Stats: Jeff Hicks
Team Leader: Dr. Laura Finch
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Lawrence

U.S. Parapan American Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team Schedule (times listed as ET)
Aug. 9: USA def. Canada 25-1, 25-14, 25-11
Aug. 10: USA def. Cuba 25-8, 25-5, 25-10
Aug. 11: USA vs. Brazil, 7 p.m.
Aug. 13: Semifinals, TBA
Aug. 14: Medal Rounds, TBA