U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Team named "Best Paralympic Team"

By Karen Patterson (karen.patterson@usav.org) | Sept. 28, 2016, 7:26 p.m. (ET)

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Sept. 28, 2016) – The U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Team capped a historic year Wednesday night when the team was named “Best Paralympic Team" Presented by Dow at the Team USA Awards. The team was nominated after the U.S. Women defeated China 25-12, 25-12, 25-18 in the gold medal final of the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games earlier this month to win the first-ever gold medal by a U.S. Paralympic volleyball team.

RELATED: USAV Rio Microsite | U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Home | Team USA Awards

The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team finished 2016 with a remarkable 21-3 record. The team’s only loss in official competition came against China in pool play at the Paralympics; the other two losses came against Russia during a five-match exhibition series at the 2016 USA Volleyball Open National Championships.

In addition to winning gold at the Paralympics, the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team won gold at the World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup in Anji, China in March, defeating China 3-1 in the gold medal match. The team also won the Dutch Tournament, a round-robin event in early July, dropping just one set China in the six-match sweep.

Following the gold medal win at the Paralympics, Captain Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina) was named Tournament MVP and "Best Receiver." Erickson finished with  54 kills, seven blocks and four aces for 65 points. Teammate Lora Webster (Point Lookout, New York) was named "Best Blocker," dominating the net with 19 total blocks and 38 rebounds, leading all players in both categories.

The U.S. Women outscored their opponents 407-225, winning sets by an average of 11.07 points. Additionally, the team tallied 189 kills, tied with Brazil for the second most in the whole tournament. China led with 202 kills. At the net, the U.S. Women consistently out-blocked opponents, totaling 51 blocks with an additional 106 block-rebounds, 24 more than the next closest team (China, 92 block rebounds). 

The U.S. previously won bronze (2004) and silver (2008, 2012) at the Paralympic Games, facing off with long-time rival China in both the 2008 and 2012 gold medal finals. Since women’s sitting volleyball was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 2004, China had won gold each Games.

Ranked No. 2 in the world, the U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team beat out other “Best Paralympic Team” nominees U.S. Men’s Goalball, U.S. Wheelchair Rugby and both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Teams. The results were decided by 50 percent fan vote and 50 percent vote by Paralympic National Governing Bodies. 

Other winners were:
  • Female Athlete of the Olympic Games, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods: Katie Ledecky, Swimming
  • Male Athlete of the Olympic Games: Michael Phelps, Swimming 
  • Team of the Olympic Games, presented by Dow: U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team
  • Female Athlete of the Paralympic Games, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods: Tatyana McFadden, Track and Field
  • Male Athlete of the Paralympic Games, presented by The Hartford: Brad Snyder, Swimming

U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team Roster
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)

1. Lora Webster (MB, 5-11, Point Lookout, New York)
2. Bethany Zummo (L, 5-2, Dublin, Calif.)
3. Alexis Shifflett (S, 5-4, Waseca, Minn.)
4. Michelle Schiffler (OH/MB, 6-0, Lake Wales, Fla.)
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.)
10. Kari Miller (L, 5-6, Washington D.C.)
13. Nichole Millage (OH, 5-7, Champaign, Ill.)
14. Kaleo Kanahele (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
Team Leader: Michelle Goodall
Assistant Coaches: Cara Lang and Lazaro Beltran
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Patrick Lawrence
Press Officer: Karen Patterson