U.S. Women's Sitting Team Golden at Parapan

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 14, 2015, 6:48 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 14, 2015) – The U.S. Parapan Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team, ranked third in the world, added one more bit of history to its record collection by defeating Brazil 25-20, 25-22, 25-15 Friday evening in Toronto to claim the first-ever women’s sitting volleyball title at the Parapan American Games.

Team USA, which has already qualified to the 2016 Paralympic Games after finishing second at last year’s World Champioship, went undefeated in five Parapan American Games matches without dropping a single set. During pool play the Americans defeated the Brazilians 25-20, 25-20, 25-11.

The U.S. won the opening set 25-20, but had to weather a furious Brazil comeback after it trailed 10-1. In the second set, the Americans found themselves trailing 8-3 before catching fire to go up 19-14 only to fend off a late Brazil charge that evened the score at 20-all before scoring five of the final seven points to win 25-22. The Americans built a 13-9 advantage midway through the third set and made it stand for a 25-15 victory and gold medal.

Related: Unofficial DataVolley Stats | Official Stats

"The women played a wonderful match tonight," U.S. Parapan Women's Sitting Volleyball Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. "We had good runs in each set and had to overcome challenges as well. It is always good to be tested and triumph. Brazil played a strong match and took advantage of some of our weaknesses. Now we begin training to sure up our weaknesses before Rio."

Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) scored a match-high 16 points for Team USA with 13 kills on 31 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.) notched 15 points with eight kills on 19 swings, six blocks and an ace.

Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) collected nine points with eight kills on 17 swings and an ace. Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.) totaled five points with two kills, two aces and a block. Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.) charted three kills and an ace, while Nicky Nieves (Kisssimmee, Fla.) rounded out the scoring with a block and kill for two points.

Tournament Review: Aug. 9 USA vs. CAN | Aug. 10 USA vs CUB | Aug. 11 USA vs BRA | Aug. 13 USA vs CUB

Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) pocketed three digs and one excellent reception from her libero position. Kanahele was credited with 40 running sets on 53 set attempts to lead the Americans to a 36.5 kill percent and .260 hitting efficiency (35-10-96). Holloway charted 12 excellent receptions on 23 attempts. Burkland added 10 digs and five excellent receptions on 16 chances. Erickson chipped in seven digs.

"I enjoyed the match tonight," Zummo said. "The team likes playing highly competitive teams and Brazil was very competitive tonight. I had a lot of fun passing their hits and playing good volleyball. We are excited to win this tournament and now our sights are set on Gold in Rio."

Team USA held Brazil to a 27.0 kill percent and .124 hitting efficiency (24-13-89). While Brazil held an 11-6 margin in aces, the Americans picked up a 10-8 advantage in blocks and 35-24 edge in kills. The U.S. also took advantage of 24 Brazil errors to its own 15 mistakes.

The Americans opened the first set with a 4-0 lead, taking advantage of three Brazilian errors and a Holloway kill. The U.S. increased its lead to 8-1 with a Millage ace along with two more kills from Holloway and a block by Nieves. Out of the first technical timeout, Team USA increased the margin to 10-1 with a Nieves kill and Brazil error as part of a 6-0 run. Brazil cut the deficit to 14-7, but the Americans answered with six of the next seven points to stake a 12-point lead at 20-8. Brazil responded by trimming the deficit to 23-20 with a 12-3 run thanks to a touch serve that netted seven aces. However, the U.S. stopped the bleeding and won 25-20 as Erickson turned in the final two points for seven total points in the set. While Brazil out-served Team USA 7-2 in aces, the Americans held a 4-2 advantage in blocks and an 11-7 margin in kills.

Brazil gained an early 8-3 margin in the second set, but the Americans made a charge back with six of the next eight points to close to 10-9. Holloway tied the set at 12-all and the Americans pushed out in front 17-13 with point from Holloway and Kanahele as part of an 8-3 run. Brazil was not done as it came back from a 19-14 deficit to square the set at 20-all on a 6-1 run. Erickson ended the run and helped the U.S. answered with four straight points with a Erickson and Millage scoring points. Erickson got the winner at 25-22 to give Team USA a 2-0 set advantage. The Americans secured four blocks and two aces in the second set while converting 43.8 percent of their attacks while holding the Brazilians to a 31.3 kill percent.

Team USA broke a 2-all tie in the third set with four unanswered points to grab a 6-2 advantage behind the offense of Holloway and Erickson. The Americans surged out to a commanding 13-7 advantage. The U.S. cruised the rest of the way in winning 25-15.

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)

Staff
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 def. Brazil 25-20, 25-22, 25-15 (Gold)