While the women’s team looks to finally overtake China, they know their opponents are improving just as much.21 Jun 2016
Katie Holloway sets the ball for USA against China in the gold-medal game at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
By Jayden Hocking | For the IPC
“The past few Games have taught me a lot about how important it is to value and let every moment sink in, to appreciate all the moments and experiences leading up to the Games, and to not wish it all away,”
US sitting volleyball player Katie Holloway believes her team needs to keep pace with their rivals who are also preparing for September’s Paralympic Games in Rio.
While the US defeated three-time Paralympic champion and long-time rival China in March’s World ParaVolley Intercontinental Championships, that success does not make the USA the new favourite in Rio 2016.
“I don’t think anyone can be overlooked at this point,” Holloway said. “Brazil just took down China in an incredible five-set match in China. So everyone is out there to compete, especially when it comes to the Paralympics.”
The USA defeated China 3-1 for the gold medal in March. Looking at the scores closely, the USA won each of their games by no more than five points, and the matches are expected to be even tighter under a Paralympic atmosphere.
“China was a good test for us to see where we are,” Holloway said. “We learned that we still have a way to go. We have to be more consistent in our defence and our all-around offense. If we stick to what we’ve learned, we will come out on top, but we have to stay poised.”
The US team has yet to be announced, but Holloway sees a promising roster.
“I believe we have the most depth of talent we’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to show people that,” Holloway said. “But first, we must work harder than anyone on fine tuning ourselves in every way possible.”
The 29-year-old-former college basketball player was part of a team which won silver in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, where she was named the Best Spiker.
Both times, the USA lost to China in the finals.
They also lost to China in the 2014 World Championship gold medal match.
“China is tough to beat because of their consistently good defence and aggressive offense,” Holloway said. “They always find a way to win and never let anything rattle them, which is huge in the game of volleyball because it is such ebb-and-flow game.”
When asked what the key to success in Rio, Holloway was quick to point out the amity the team shares:
“I believe in order to be successful as a team you must stay together at all costs. So this year we’re spending each camp doing one team bonding night. This has made big difference and I can’t wait to share more moments with my team off the court.”
At the Games, China and the USA are in Pool B, along with Asia-Oceania silver medallists Iran and African champions Rwanda. Paralympic hosts Brazil are in Pool A, along with Ukraine, Canada and Russia.
While Rio 2016 is an opportunity for the US to break China’s dominance, Holloway also does not want to put too much pressure on winning.
“The past few Games have taught me a lot about how important it is to value and let every moment sink in, to appreciate all the moments and experiences leading up to the Games, and to not wish it all away,” she said.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)