Women's Sitting Team Focused on Gold at Worlds

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | July 13, 2018, 6:14 p.m. (ET)
U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball player Lexi Shifflett sets the ball as Lora Webster watches
U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball player Lexi Shifflett sets the ball as Lora Webster watches.
 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 12, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team has won so much, it is easy to forget it hasn’t won a world championship.

The team hopes to end that drought at the 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championships, which run July 15-21 in Netherlands.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” U.S. Women’s Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. “Our training and match play have gone really well, especially against some of the opponents we will matched up against.”

The U.S. Women go into the World Championships ranked No. 1 in the world after winning the gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games. The players know this puts a target on their collective backs.

“It’ll be fun to have people chasing us,” middle blocker Lora Webster said. “In the past, we’ve always been chasing China, mainly. It’ll be fun to have that target on our back and know that everyone is chasing us.

“We’ve always felt that we could be the best. Now we’ve proven it and we have to work hard to maintain that.”

The U.S. Women have finished second to China at the last two World Championships (2010 and ’14). They finally beat China to win the Paralympic gold in 2016. But that doesn’t mean that China, or any country, is going to let the U.S. take gold in Netherlands.

“China, Russia, Brazil are some of those top teams that have been good in the past and are still pretty good,” Hamiter said. “Netherlands have been good in the past and are starting to come back up. Teams like Iran who were good in Rio and we haven’t seen them since then. We’re not sure what they will be like.”

The team for World Championships includes 10 players from the team that won gold in Rio. The newcomers are Whitney Dosty and Jillian Williams. Dosty joined the team after Rio while Williams joined in late 2017, moving to the team's headquarters at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond in hopes of getting enough training in to make the team. 

The hardest part of the World Championships may come before the event even starts.

Before each major sitting volleyball tournament, players’ disabilities are classified by a committee. To put it simply, if your disability does not meet the criteria, you don’t play.

World ParaVolley put new sitting volleyball classification guidelines into place at the start of 2018 and there is a chance that players on the U.S. Women’s Team might not classify. But Hamiter is staying positive.

“We’ve made our backup plan just in case some of the classification doesn’t go our way,” Hamiter said.
“I think we’re still covered. Everyone understands what could happen.”

The team’s preparation should have it ready for any possibility, Hamter said.

“The big thing for us, we’ve not won a world championships before,” he said. “The closest we got was last time (in 2014). We are pretty motivated to see if we can win one.”

U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Roster

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
1. Lora Webster (MB, 5-11, Point Lookout, N.Y.)
2. Bethany Zummo (L, 5-2, Dublin, Calif.)
3. Lexi Shifflett (S, 5-4, Waseca, Minn.)
5. Katie Holloway (OH, 6-3, Lake Stevens, Wash.)
6. Heather Erickson (OH, 5-11, Fayetteville, NC)
7. Monique Burkland (OH, 5-9, Ardmore, Okla.)
8. Whitney Dosty(OH, 6-3, Tucson, Ariz.)
11. Jillian Williams (Opp, 5-10, Edmond, Oka.)
13. Nichole Millage (OH, 5-7, Champaign, Ill.)
14. Kaleo Kanahele Maclay (S, 5-6, Edmond, Okla.)
16. Nicky Nieves (MB, 5-10, Kissimmee, Fla.)
17. Tia Edwards (OH, 5-7, Skitatook, Okla.)

Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coach: Lazaro Beltran
Assistant Coach: Jon Aharoni
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Lawrence
Team Manager: Michelle Goodall
Technical Coordinator: Jeffery Hicks
Team Psychologist: Emily Clark

U.S. Women’s Schedule for World Championships
Arnhem, Netherlands (All times ET)

July 15 at 10 a.m.: USA v Hungary
July 16 at 1 p.m.: USA v Russia
July 17 at 1 p.m.: Japan v USA

Rotterdam, Netherlands (All times ET)
July 19: Quarterfinals and classification matches
July 20: Semifinals and classification matches
July 21: Placement and medal matches