The United States women’s team completed the sweep of their best-of-five series with hosts Canada in the 2023 ParaVolley Pan America Zonal Championship on Thursday at Saville Community Sports Centre, securing the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games qualification spot.
Team USA prevailed against Canada 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 25-21) to clinch the series for the chance to defend their Paralympic title in Paris. The Americans cleared the first two tight hurdles, but lost their momentum in the third, as Canada implemented great defence against the USA hitters.
Canada also led in the fourth set, but the visiting side snatched the lead at 15-14 as Heather Erickson dropped a soft put-back. USA kept their offence going until they sealed the fourth set for the championship win.
“It feels amazing,” USA captain Monique Matthews said. “It takes a lot of pressure of us for the rest of this year so we can focus on different lineups and try different things. I’m proud of both teams, Canada played amazing and pushed us to our limits. I’m just so happy that we were able to come out on top this time.”
The USA women’s team will be making their sixth consecutive Paralympic Games appearance in Paris. They have finished in the podium of every single edition of the Games since joining in 2004, winning bronze at Athens and taking silver at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and claiming back-to-back gold medals at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
The women’s series between Canada and USA will continue with non-bearing matches scheduled on May 12 at 16:30 local time and May 13 at 16:00.
Meanwhile, Brazil closed preliminary round play with an undefeated record, following their win against Canada, while the United States held a 2-1 card after beating Argentina in four sets in the men’s tournament.
Brazil’s excellent defence at the net counted most in their 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-17) defeat of Canada in the second match of the day. The South Americans will move to the semifinals facing Argentina at 14:00.
“We definitely didn’t start the way we wanted today, which is always tough against a team like Brazil. They play a fast game and consistently at a high level, and that’s where we are pushing ourselves to be every day. It’s just a reminder of the work and preparation we need to have to come in and win a match like this. A disappointing result, but good on the guys to make some changes and battle in the second set. Our focus now is on the semifinal,” Canada captain Austin Hinchey said.
USA opened the day with a 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-13, 25-15) victory over Argentina. USA struggled in their first set win as Argentina matched their intensity on the floor.
With their impressive stance towards the USA squad, the South American side took the win in the second set – their historic first set-victory in the tournament. USA got into an offensive groove in the next two, securing match victory and setting up another matchup with the Canadians in the second semifinal on Friday at 19:00.
Photo source: ParaVolley Pan America
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