COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Volleyball has announced that the U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team has qualified for the 2008 Paralympics on Sept. 6-17 in Beijing, China.
Although the Pan American zone, in which the United States sitting teams compete, did not have a qualifying tournament, the U.S. women’s team qualified by virtue of its fifth-place finish at the 2006 Sitting Volleyball World Championship and because the Afro Arab zone did not have a champion to send
“I am very excited for our team. We are really looking forward to competing against the world’s best teams and showing how much we’ve improved,” said U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Head Coach Mike Hulett. “We are now two-for two in Paralympic qualifying.”
Beijing will mark the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team’s second appearance in the Paralympics. It won the bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.
Six players from that team are training with the current women’s sitting team: Allison Aldrich (Schuyler, Neb.), Kendra Lancaster (Sheridan, Ind.), Hope Lewellen (Palos Park, Ill.), Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.), Gina McWilliams (The Colony, Texas) and Lora Webster (Cave Creek, Ariz.). Thirteen players are training with the team, but only 12 will be chosen for Beijing. The nominated players should be determined by April.
The U.S. Men’s Sitting Team missed out on qualifying for the 2008 Paralympics when it fell to Brazil in the gold-medal match at the 2007 Parapan American Games. However, U.S. Men’s Sitting Team Head Coach Bill Hamiter will serve as the team leader for the U.S. Sitting Women’s Team in Beijing.
The other women’s sitting teams that will be competing in Beijing are:
1. China as host nation (No. 2 at 2006 World Championship)
2. Netherlands as No. 1 of 2006 World Championship
3. Slovenia as No. 3 of 2006 World Championship
4. Lithuania as No. 4 of 2006 World Championships
5. Ukraine, replacing Pan American CVD Champion as No. 6 of 2006 World Championship
6. Japan as No. 2 of Asia Oceania CVD Championship
7. Latvia as No. 5 of European CVD Championship
With the qualification, 2008 will be a busy year for the team.
There will be a camp from March 16-21 in Chicago followed by an open team tryout on March 22-23. The camp will include morning practices and evening matches, preferably against men’s teams, which provide great competition for the women, Hulett said. The Netherlands Women’s Sitting Team has also expressed interest in participating in the Chicago event.
April 23-30, the team will be in Egypt to participate in the first WOVD (World Organization Volleyball for the Disabled) Intercontinental Cup Sitting Volleyball for Men and Women.
The U.S. Women’s Sitting Team will be in Atlanta on May 24-31 for the 2008 USA Open Volleyball Championships.
The team will hold a series of Paralympic preparation camps in June, July and August at its headquarters at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Training Team Roster
Allison Aldrich (Schuyler, Neb.)
Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Alex Gouldie (St. Paul, Neb.)
Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Wash.)
SuGui Kriss (Ravena, N.Y.)
Kendra Lancaster (Sheridan, Ind.)
Hope Lewellen (Palos Park, Ill.)
Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.)
Gina McWilliams (The Colony, Texas)
Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill.)
Kari Miller (Washington D.C.)
Tatiana Rivera Torres (Bayamon, Puerto Rico)
Lora Webster (Cave Creek, Ariz.)
Head Coach: Mike Hulett (Des Plaines, Ill.)
Assistant Coach: Denise Van De Walle (Bowling Green, Ohio)