Stephen Bracken (7) setting Zach Upp during a U.S. Men's Sitting Team match versus Canada in 2019
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 12, 2020) – The U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball National Team is preparing to host the seven-team Tokyo 2020 Men’s Final Paralympic Qualification Tournament March 16-21 at its training headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Along with the USA, participating teams are Canada, Croatia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine. The Americans are ranked seventh in the world by World ParaVolley, the second highest ranked team in the field behind fifth-ranked Ukraine. Germany is ranked eighth, Kazakhstan is 10th, Canada is 16th, Croatia at 17th and Latvia at 23rd.
USA heads Pool A with Kazakhstan and Canada. Pool A matches will be scheduled at 4:30 p.m. CT on March 16-18. Pool B has Ukraine, Germany, Croatia and Latvia. Pool B matches are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. March 16-18. After an off day, semifinal matches will be played on March 20 at 2:45 p.m. 4:30 p.m. The gold-medal match is set for March 21 at 2:45 p.m. after the bronze-medal match at 1 p.m.
Matches are being held at the UCO Wellness Center and are open to the public with free admission. All matches will also be streamed live on usavolleyball.org.
The tournament winner earns the final spot into the eight-team 2020 Paralympic Games field. Already qualified are hosts Japan, Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Brazil, China and Egypt. Russia’s spot into the Paralympic Games is pending the lifting of its suspension against Russia’s national Paralympic committee.
U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball National Team Head Coach Greg Walker feels the qualifier field is well-balanced and earning the Paralympic bid will be challenging. To rise to the next level, Walker says the team is working to be more ‘connected’.
“The event is incredibly unique because all teams competing are all very similar in world ranking and level of playing,” Walker said. “Our theme of this year is that we have to be ‘connected’ and doing more and giving more of ourselves to commit to that action. We have been working so hard on the volleyball systems and skills these last few months and I am excited to showcase the improvement that these athletes have had over the last few months of training.”
The U.S. Men held its January monthly training camp Jan. 24-26 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla. The team will have another training camp Feb. 20-23 and its final camp immediately prior to the qualification tournament on March 9-12.
Walker said the team is fine tuning its offensive opportunities in training to become more efficient in match competition.
“The team has been constantly looking for ways to improve on our ability to point score,” Walker said. “It has been awesome to see how many more opportunities we have been creating. Now it is just having more efficiency in those attempts. We reinforced some key concepts on our fundamentals in attacking during the January training block and the results were incredible. Tons of offensive production.”
Tokyo 2020 Men’s Final Paralympic Qualification Tournament Pools
Pool A: USA, Kazahkstan, Canada
Pool B: Ukraine, Germany, Croatia, Latvia
Tokyo 2020 Men’s Final Paralympic Qualification Tournament Schedule (all times CT/Local)
March 16: Ukraine (B1) vs Croatia (B3), 1 p.m.
March 16: Germany (B2) vs Latvia (B4), 2:45 p.m.
March 16: USA (A1) vs Canada (A3), 4:30 p.m.
March 17: Ukraine (B1) vs Germany (B2), 1 p.m.
March 17: Croatia (B3) vs Latvia (B4), 2:45 p.m.
March 17: Kazakhstan (A2) vs Canada (A3), 4:30 p.m.
March 18: Ukraine (B1) vs Latvia (B4), 1 p.m.
March 18: Germany (B2) vs Croatia (B3), 2:45 p.m.
March 18: USA (A1) vs Kazakhstan (A2), 4:30 p.m.
March 20: 3rd Place A vs. 4th Place B (5th-7th Classification), 1 p.m.
March 20: 1st Place B vs. 2nd Place A (Semifinal), 2:45 p.m.
March 20: 1st Place A vs. 2nd Place B (Semifinal), 4:30 p.m.
March 21: 5th-6th Place, 10 a.m.
March 21: Semifinal Losers (Bronze Medal), 1 p.m.
March 21: Semifinal Winners (Gold Medal), 2:45 p.m.