U.S. Women's Sitting Sweeps Matches at Dutch Open

By Karen Patterson (karen.patterson@usav.org) | July 01, 2016, 11 p.m. (ET)

ASSEN, Netherlands (July 1, 2016) – On Friday, the U.S. Women's Sitting Team topped two of the teams it may face at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in the opening matches of the Dutch Tournament.

The U.S. defeated Russia 5-15, 25-14, 25-18 before taking Ukraine down 25-17, 25-19, 25-23; each team is seeded in the opposite pool of the U.S. at the Paralympics, potentially creating a playoff match-up following pool play.

Veteran players Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Washington) and Nichole Millage (Champaign, Illinois) called the team's 3-0 victory against Russia, “one of the fastest starts ever.”

“With the long travel and short-turnaround, we could have a started a little slow, but we came out strong from the get-go,” Millage added.

RELATED: U.S. WOMEN'S SITTING TEAM HOME | U.S. PARALYMPIC WOMEN'S SITTING TEAM ROSTER

Holloway led the U.S. in scoring each match, recording 13 points against Russia (six kills, six blocks, one ace) and 17 more against Ukraine (12 kills, three blocks, two aces), also recording a team-best 75 percent pass positive serve receive rating against Ukraine.

Team captain and recent ESPY-nominee Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina) scored 11 points against Russia with a team-high eight kills.

Aggressive serving helped the Americans stay ahead, totaling a combined 15 aces to their opponents' 4 aces, while missing only two serves compared to 10 missed serves by Russia and Ukraine.

Known as having one of the world's tallest blocks, Ukraine totaled 20 blocks against the U.S.; the Americans in turn recorded 18 blocks.

“Playing a team (like Ukraine) is important because we'll face teams with big blocks in Rio, and it gives us an idea of what we need to improve on, while also improving our game at the net.

In May, the U.S. hosted Russia in a five-match exhibition series at the USA Volleyball Open National Championships.

On Saturday the U.S. Women's Sitting Team faces Slovenia and host-nation Netherlands at the Dutch Tournament. The five of the seven participating teams – Russia, Ukraine, China, Rwanda and the United States – are qualified for the Paralympics, giving the U.S. a fantastic opportunity to fine-tune its systems before the September Paralympics.

On June 22, the team announced its Paralympic Roster; Head Coach Bill Hamiter previously the coaching staff hopes to play a variety of line-ups in preparation for the Games.

U.S. Starters vs. Russia:
Middle Blockers: Lora Webster, Nicky Nieves
Outside Hitters: Heather Erickson, Katie Holloway
Setter: Kaleo Kanahele
Opposite: Monique Burkland

Libero: Bethany Zummo

U.S. Statistics vs. Russia:
Kills: Erickson 8, Burkland 6, Holloway 6, Michelle Schiffler 2, Kanahele 1, Nieves 1
Blocks: Holloway 6, Webster 4, Burkland 2, Lexi Shifflett 1, Schiffler 1, Burkland 1, Kanahele 1
Aces: Kanahele 2, Webster 1, Holloway 1, Erickson 1

U.S. Starters vs. Ukraine
Middle Blockers: Lora Webster, Nicky Nieves
Outside Hitters: Heather Erickson, Katie Holloway
Setter: Kaleo Kanahele
Opposite: Monique Burkland
Libero: Bethany Zummo

U.S. Statistics vs. Ukraine
Kills: Holloway 12, Erickson 9, Burkland 8, Webster 3, Nieves 3, Schiffler 1, Nichole Millage 1, Kanahele 1
Blocks: Webster 5, Burkland 4, Holloway 3, Erickson 3, Nieves 3
Aces: Erickson 3, Holloway 2, Kanahele 2, Webster 1, Alexis Shifflett 1, Nieves 1

U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Roster for the Dutch Tournament (July 1-3):
# – Name (Position, Hometown, Height)

1 – Lora Webster (MB, Phoenix, Arizona, 5-11)
2 – Bethany Zummo (L, Dublin, California, 5-2)
3 – Alexis Shifflet (S, Waseca, Minnesota, 5-4)
4 – Michelle Schiffler (MB, Lake Wales, Florida, 6-0)
5 – Katie Holloway (OH, Lake Stevens, Washington, 6-3)
6 – Heather Erickson (OH, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 5-11)
7 – Monique Burkland (MB, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 5-9)
10 – Kari Miller (OPP/DS, Washington D.C., 5-6)
13 – Nichole Millage (OH, Champaign, Illinois, 5-7)
14 – Kaleo Kanahele (S, Edmond, Oklahoma, 5-6)
16 – Nicky Nieves (OH, Kissimmee, Florida, 5-10)
17 – Tia Edwards (OH/MB, Skiatook, Oklahoma, 5-7)

Staff
Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coach: Cara Lang
Assistant Coach: Lazaro Beltran
Team Manager: Michelle Goodall
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Lawrence

U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Schedule at the Dutch Tournament , Assen, Netherlands (All times local)
July 1: USA def. Russia, 25-14, 25-15, 25-18
July 1: USA def. Ukraine, 25-17, 25-19, 25-23
July 2: USA vs. Slovenia, 9 a.m.
July 2: USA vs. Netherlands, 7 p.m.
July 3: USA vs. China, 9 a.m.
July 3: USA vs. Rwanda, 2 p.m.