Women's Sitting Draws Juniors Crowds at Crossroads

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | March 16, 2019, 2:41 p.m. (ET)

AVA Texas 16 Rox with the U.S. Women's Sitting Team
AVA Texas 16 Rox pose for a group photo with the U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Team, along with Katie Holloway's 2016 Paralympic Games gold medal making its way into the photo

DENVER (March 16, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team has drawn standing room only crowds to their exhibition matches against Canada during the Colorado Crossroads junior national qualifier in Denver.

While they are not playing their own matches, junior club members are stopping by Court E9 at the Colorado Convention Center to take in a few points or even a full match, schedule permitting, as Team USA takes on Canada in a five-match exhibition series.

After the U.S. defeated Canada in Saturday morning’s match, AVA Texas 16 Rox went one step further than simply watching the world’s No. 1 sitting volleyball team. AVA Texas learned the limited rule differences between the standing and sitting game from U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Assistant Coach Jon Aharoni, then the club took to Sport Court playing the sitting game for nearly 30 minutes.

Related: March 15 USA vs Canada Recap

“It was a little exhausting,” said AVA Texas 16 Rox’s Shyia Richardson on her first experience playing sitting volleyball. “It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

Richardson pointed out the challenges to sitting volleyball are “moving to get to the balls, and hitting the ball over the net.”

In contrast, Richardson saw just how good the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team is. “They were really quick to the ball and they were really good.”

Teresa Garza, Richardson’s teammate on AVA Texas 16 Rox, feels her team as a whole can learn from this sitting volleyball experience.

“I would say a lot more communications because it so much harder to move in sitting,” Garza said in regards to what her team can take back to their own club training. “I think we need to take advantage of our ability to move on our feet and talk more.”

Garza wants this sitting experience to not be a one-time opportunity. She wants to incorporate sitting volleyball in her club team’s training.

“I think it is a good warmup game for us and to get us moving and talking,” Garza said.

The ability to bring together the sitting and standing game is one of the reasons the reasons the partnership between the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team and Crossroads has been so good for over a decade.

Kay Rogness, the tournament director for the Colorado Crossroads, is happy to have the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team competing at the tournament once again. They have been a staple attraction at Crossroads having played in the event nine of the last 11 years.

“The sitting volleyball program is very near and dear to our hearts,” Rogness said. “We have been able to host them many years in a row, including the men’s sitting team. We love the whole program.”

Emma Schieck and Annie Flood, at ages 17 and 15, are the two youngest members of the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team. They know full well the benefit of such mutual cooperation to expose the sitting game to the volleyball community. Both currently play either club or high school standing volleyball, and appreciate being able to bring sitting volleyball to new audiences.

“It is crazy,” Schieck said. “It is kind of cool seeing both sitting and standing volleyball at the same time. It is weird being in this convention center setting and not being with our standing club team. I am loving it and having fun. I know I would have gotten involved with sitting volleyball earlier if I had played at this tournament and seen the sitting players playing. I think the fact we are here is great and spreading this sport of sitting volleyball is amazing.”

Flood said her sitting volleyball experiences has helped her own standing game.

“Sitting volleyball helps my indoor game a lot because I am a lot faster when I go back to indoor,” Flood said. “I can jump higher, have more energy. I am faster in general. It helps my mental game as well as my reactions are really fast. I feel like I have a better mindset when I am here and I can carry that into the standing game.”