COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 11, 2015) – The U.S. Parapan Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team, ranked third in the world, used balanced scoring in downing fourth-ranked Brazil 25-20, 25-20, 25-11 to conclude the Parapan American Games pool play undefeated in Toronto, Canada.
Team USA (3-0), already qualified for next summer’s 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, will now meet Cuba (0-3) in the first semifinal on Thursday either at 1 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET. Cuba finished fourth in the four-team preliminary round. Brazil (2-1) will meet Canada (1-2) in the other semifinal. This year marks the first time women’s sitting volleyball has been contested at the Parapan American Games.
Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) scored a match-high 14 points for Team USA with 11 kills on 26 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) provided 11 kills on 21 attacks in the victory. Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) contributed eight points, all on kills coming from 17 attacks.
"I really liked the way the team stuck together tonight," U.S. Parapan Women's Sitting Volleyball Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. "We made too many errors the first two sets, which helped keep Brazil in the match. Even though we struggled at times, the team remained focused and confident. Brazil did an outstanding job blocking and it wasn't until we made some adjustments that our offense really started clicking."
Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Fla.) totaled four kills on seven swings, two blocks and an ace for Team USA. Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.) was a multi-prong threat with seven points coming from five aces, one block and one kill to go with 49 running sets on 53 set attempts in directing the offense. Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.) turned in five kills and a block for six points. Angela Palacio (Yuba City, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with one kill.
Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) pocketed a team-best nine digs to go with five excellent receptions on seven chances as the libero. Holloway had 11 excellent receptions on 13 chances to go with five digs and four running sets. Burkland chipped in 10 excellent receptions on 15 chances and six digs.
"We played good the first two sets then picked it up in the third set," Kanahele said. "Our defense was strong the entire match and Bethany Zummo made some exceptional digs. The team is excited to continue our journey for gold as we will face Cuba once again in the semifinals on Thursday!"
Team USA held a 7-1 ace advantage to offset Brazil’s 10-6 margin in blocks. The Americans convert 43.2 percent of their attacks into points with .274 hitting efficiency (41-15-95). The U.S. defense held Brazil to a 25.0 kill percent and .105 hitting efficiency (19-11-76).
The U.S. opened the match by scoring the first four points of the first set with two kills from Nieves. Brazil battled back to within two points at 8-6. The U.S. pushed out to a 14-8 advantage following a 4-0 scoring run. Team USA inched its lead to 20-11 with three unanswered points. Brazil used a 4-0 run to slice its deficit to 21-16, then pulled to within three at 22-19 with another 3-0 run. The U.S. ended the set with a 25-20 victory. Nieves and Erickson each scored four points in the set.
The second set remained tight Team USA gained a three-point cushion at 13-10. The Americans pulled away to a six-point advantage at 20-14 with four straight points. The U.S. cruised into the set victory at 25-20. Holloway netted five points in the set and Team USA tallied 13 kills as a team.
Team USA reached an 8-3 advantage at the first technical timeout of the third set. The U.S. stretched the gap to eight points at 14-6 as the offense was clicking on all cylinder with seven kills on 10 attacks in the third set to that point. The Americans built a 14-point advantage at 21-7 with five unanswered points to cruise into a 25-11 victory. Erickson notches seven points in the set.
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 def. Brazil 25-20, 25-20, 25-11
Aug. 13: USA vs Cuba (Semifinals), Time TBA
Aug. 14: Medal Rounds, TBA