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Women's Sitting Team Wins Parapan Semi vs Cuba

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 13, 2015, 2:35 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 13, 2015) – The U.S. Parapan Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team, ranked third in the world, is one victory away from claiming the first-ever women’s sitting volleyball Parapan American Games title after topping Cuba 25-4, 25-12, 25-8 in the semifinal round Thursday in Toronto.

Team USA, undefeated in four Parapan Am Games matches, will face the winner of tonight’s second semifinal between Canada and Brazil in Friday’s gold-medal match at 5 p.m. ET.

All but Team USA’s two liberos scored points in the balanced attack. Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.) scored a match-high 13 points for Team USA as she was credited with 11 aces on 20 serves, one block and one kill. Lexi Shifflett (Waseca, Minn.) notched four aces, two blocks and two kills for eight points.

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"The team played well once again with some strong serving," U.S. Parapan Women's Sitting Volleyball Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. "We knew what to expect from Cuba since we had played them previously in this tournament."

Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) scored three kills on four attacks to go with four aces on seven serves for seven points. Tia Edwards (Skiatook, Okla.), who started the third set after being a sub in the first two, served six aces on 13 attempts to go with one kill for seven points. Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Fla.) came off the bench to score four kills on five swings and two aces for six points in starting the final two sets.

Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) scored three kills on four attacks and an ace for four points, which was matched by Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.) as she scored four aces on six serves. Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.), starting just the first set, provided two kills and a block for three points. Courtney Baker (Crofton, Ky.), who started the second set, scored twice with one kill on one attack and an ace. Angela Palacio (Yuba City, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with one kill.

"The teams energy stayed high and consistent," Holloway said. "We are excited to win the semi-final and now move on to the finals."

Kari Miller (Washington D.C.), who started the first and third set at libero, pocketed three digs and two excellent receptions on four chances. Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) collected one dig and one excellent reception in starting the second set at libero.

Burkland was credited with a team-best six digs, while both Millage and Palacio turned in three excellent receptions. Shifflett and Kanahele shared the setting role as Team USA converted 50.0 percent of its attacks into points with a .361 hitting efficiency (18-5-36). Shifflett had 12 running sets on as many set attempts, while Kanahele recorded eight running sets on 12 set attempts.

The U.S. scored a total of 33 aces on 74 serve attempts compared to Cuba’s three aces. Both teams tallied four blocks in the match. The Americans held Cuba to a 20.7 kill percent with a negative .138 hitting efficiency (6-10-29).

The U.S. took a 10-1 lead early in the opening set with six aces from Millage and two kills by Holloway. Burkland added two more aces to start a 13-0 run to end the set at 25-4. The Americans had 14 aces in the set and converted six of 10 attacks into points.

Cuba held a 2-1 advantage early in the second set, which was erased quickly with the U.S. taking the lead back at 3-2. The set was back-and-forth until the U.S. broke a 6-all tie with a 9-1 run to establish a 14-7 lead. Team USA cruised into the set victory at 25-12. The Americans finished with 10 aces in the set and were 6-of-13 on attacks to go with three blocks.

Team USA gained a 4-1 margin in the opening stages of the third set. After Cuba trimmed the deficit to 4-3, the U.S. scored three unanswered points to stake itself to a 7-3 advantage. The Americans pulled away with a string of points to go up 16-6 at the second technical timeout. After the break in action the U.S. scored nine of the last 11 points for a 25-8 victory. Team USA was credited with nine aces in the set with a 6-of-13 hitting to go with 10 Cuba errors.

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 def Cuba 25-4, 25-12, 25-8 (Semifinals)
Aug. 14: USA vs. Brazil/Canada (Gold Medal), 5 p.m.