B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Special to The Sun
After driving through the 2010 Sitting Volleyball World Championships with relative ease, the U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball team ran into a roadblock called China in the gold medal match and fell 25-18, 25-20, 25-15 on Sunday at the University of Central Oklahoma.
The U.S. women’s team won the silver medal and finished the tournament with a match record of 7-1 and a set record of 21-5. China finishes at 8-0 and a set record of 24-1.
The U.S. women played well at times during the match, but didn’t keep up a consistent attack against China.
“We did do some things we wanted to do when we were in system,” U.S. Women’s Head Coach Bill Hamiter said. “We knew (China’s Yuhong Sheng) would get her swings… When we were in-system and getting our swings, they weren’t picking up on it.”
Hamiter started Brenda Maymon, Katie Holloway, Heather Erickson, Allison Aldrich, Nichole Millage, Kendra Lancaster and Kari Miller at libero.
Michelle Gerlosky and Alex Gouldie played as substitutes.
China jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first set before the U.S. women could score their first point on a Holloway kill. China led 8-3 at the second technical timeout (TTO) and increased that to 11-3 before the U.S. scored on a double block by Erickson and Millage.
China scored again before Aldrich got a kill that sparked a 5-0 U.S. run behind Millage’s serving. With the gap closed to 12-8, China called timeout and the run ended on a service error. China scored again, but then was called for a lift.
Erickson got the serve and scored on an ace. The U.S. scored three more points, including a Maymon kill, to pull to within two points at 14-12. China got a block, but then hit the ball out and Aldrich served for two points on an ace and an attack by Holloway to tie the score at 15-15.
A service error gave China the 16-15 lead at the second TTO, but Holloway tied it again by blocking the serve. China got a kill to take the serve for Sheng, who scored on two straight aces to help the Chinese increase the lead to 19-16.
The two teams traded kills, with the U.S. scoring on kills by Millage and Lancaster, until China’s lead was 21-18. Hamiter called timeout, but China could not be frozen and scored four straight points for the set victory.
The second set started much closer with the U.S. taking its first lead of the match at 4-3 on an ace by Holloway, who had also scored for the U.S. on a block. A tip from Erickson increased the lead to 5-3 before China came back with four straight points, including three aces from Sheng, to lead, 7-5.
China’s hitting error sparked a four-point U.S. run, including an Erickson spike and Lancaster ace, to lead 9-7. China re-took the lead at 10-9 and the two teams traded points. When China grabbed a 14-12 lead on a kill and a U.S. error, Team USA came back with two straight points on a Chinese error and an attack by Holloway.
China came back with two straight points to lead 16-14 at the second TTO, and scored once more when it won a joust at the next to lead 17-14. The U.S. scored on a kill by Lancaster and block by Holloway, but China ended the run with a kill and the U.S. never tied the score again.
With China leading 20-18, Millage scored with a kill. China returned the favor and then scored the next three points to reach set point at 24-19. The U.S. held off the loss with Erickson’s tip, but Sheng finished the set with a kill for China.
China grabbed an 8-2 lead at the first TTO of the third set, with the U.S. scoring on China errors. China increased the lead to 11-2 before Millage was able to score a point for the U.S. when China let her serve return fall.
Erickson scored with an ace and the U.S. women scored five more points on two China errors, a block by Maymon and two more Erickson aces to pull to within three at 12-9.
However, that was the last run of more than two points that the U.S. could muster. China led 16-10 at the second TTO. Holloway made it 16-11 with a kill, but China went on a run of four points to make it 20-12 and the damage was done. Trailing 22-14, Team USA scored its final point of the match on Erickson’s tip. China scored the final three points, including the final ace, to win the match.
The second-place finish qualifies the U.S. women’s team for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, U.K.
B.J. HOEPTNER EVANS is manager of media relations and publications for USA Volleyball.