U.S. Women's Sitting Loses Series Opener to China

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Oct. 22, 2015, 11:55 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 22, 2015) – The top two women’s sitting volleyball teams in the world opened up a four-match friendly series Thursday night as No. 1 China defeated the No. 2 U.S. Women’s National Sitting Team 26-24, 21-25, 25-17, 25-18 on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla.

The series continues Friday with matches at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. before concluding on Saturday with a 9 a.m. contest. All matches will played on the East Court in the UCO Wellness Center with free admission.

The U.S., which will not have all its players available until the Friday matches, was led by captain Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.) and her 18 points on with 15 kills on 31 attacks, two aces and a block. Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla.) chipped in 11 points with six kills on 23 attacks, three blocks and two aces. Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.) charted seven kills, two aces and a block for 10 points. Nicky Nieves (Kissimmee, Fla.) was credited with seven points on three kills, three blocks and an ace.

Related: DataVolley Stats | Series Preview | U.S. Women's Sitting Wins Parapan American Games

Lora Webster (Phoenix, Ariz.) contributed three blocks and two kills for five points, while Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.) added two blocks and a kill for three points. Kari Miller (Washington, D.C.) and Tia Edwards (Skiatook, Okla.) totaled two points, while Lexi Shifflett (Waseca, Minn.) rounded out the scoring with a kill.

Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif.) led the Americans’ reception with a 52 positive percent on 25 chances. Burkland added a 56 positive percent on 18 chances.

China, which did not sub once during the match as only six players played, was led by Sheng’s match-high 22 points and Zhao added 17 points.

China held a slim 10-8 margin in aces while both teams produced 13 blocks in the match. China edged the U.S. in kill percent, 37 to 36 percent. A major difference in the match came on reception as China managed a 68 positive reception percent to Team USA’s 43 percent.

The U.S. and China, both already qualified to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, have developed a rivalry of epic proportions over the last decade. Team USA has lost to China in the gold-medal match in each of the last two Paralympic Games and ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships.

However, the Americans have come closer to putting the elusive gold around their necks in the major competitions. The U.S. held a match point in the deciding fifth set at the 2014 World Championship before China came back to win. The Americans also won two matches against the Chinese at the 2014 Denver Sitting Volleyball Challenge. The U.S. earned its first-ever tournament win over China during the 2013 Moscow Cup to claim the gold medal.

The U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Team is based at UCO and has regular training blocks on the campus during the course of the year.

U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team Roster vs. China (Oct. 22-24)
#- Name (Position, Hometown, Height)
1 – Lora Webster (MB, Phoenix, Ariz., 5-11)
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)
10 – Kari Miller (OPP/DS, 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 Coaches: Cara Lang, Lazaro Beltran
Assistant Coach/Stats: Jeff Hicks
Team Leader: Dr. Laura Finch
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Lawrence