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by Hannah Jo Mounty-Weinstock
The USA Men’s team, a team that has seen more than its share of lows, ended the 2011 Volleyball Friendship Games with a high: a third-place trophy. The team was established in 1973, but has earned a medal only once before this year. In 1993, head coach Patrick O’Brien guided the team to a silver medal in the Sofia Deaflympics. Ironically, O’Brien has returned this year as the interim head coach of the team, leading the USA once again to a medal.
In 2009, the team broke up just before the Taipei Deaflympics due to what O’Brien called a “lack of leadership.” In May of 2011, a tryout was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the team was a strong pack of 11 headed by coach Roger Worsley. Worsley could not commit to the schedule for the Volleyball Friendship Games, and has since decided that the team is too great of an obligation for him at this time. His resignation has left O’Brien the responsibility of being not only the team director for men’s and women’s indoor and beach volleyball, but the interim men’s head coach as well. One of O’Brien’s tasks as team director is to find a new coach for the fearless squad.
But losing a coach is not all that has brought the team down. Three players, two of which were considered key to the team’s success, were unable to attend the Volleyball Friendship Games. O’Brien realized that a team of eight simply would not suffice, so he recruited five new members in early June. The “replacements,” as they have been dubbed, are Andrew Biskupiak, 16; Kevin Berrigan, 21; Brandon McMillan, 21; Scott Lehmann, 22; and Terry Goldschmitz, 37. The five recruits, four of whom hail from Frederick, Maryland, have for the most part only played organized volleyball at the high school level. For 16-year-old Biskupiak, that experience is current. For Goldschmitz, it has been close to 20 years since he played competitively. Nevertheless, all five replacements came to train, eager to participate in a wonderful opportunity, and to represent their country.
As replacements go, these five are not so shabby. In fact, team captain Steve Haynie, 46, believes the overall team performance was enhanced by the new additions. Haynie stated that chemistry is “a lot better than before; they [the ‘replacements’] put forth greater effort,” and show more commitment. This is not to say that the team did not suffer because of their loss, Haynie believes that two of the lost players in particular would have been a great help on the court, but that the five new players have made the team a greater force overall.
So will the “replacements” become a permanent part of the team? Says O’Brien: “After the Volleyball Friendship Games are over, I will evaluate the additional players and place them on either the national team or a development team.” O’Brien also stated that the players who are absent from the Friendship Games will remain on the roster and are expected to return to complete their terms.
Unlike the absent players however, O’Brien does not intend on becoming the permanent coach of the team, and fears that he will not be able to find someone willing to take on the responsibility. He will advertise for the position within the next few months, and hopes to find someone with great charisma and reliable communication skills, stating that “constant communication is key” to the team’s success. In fact, Haynie noted that the greatest difference between the former coach and O’Brien was the shift in communication styles, saying that O’Brien is consistent and always available, and leads dialogue as well as networking for the team.
Apparently, that is not the only difference between the two coaches. Co-captain Cory Behm, 22, says that “[Worsley] focused on defense and serve receive, while [O’Brien also] focuses on quick offense.” Behm adds that O’Brien’s personal style is “different than [Worlsey’s] and perhaps that made us able to bond quicker.” While Haynie and his teammates stayed relatively neutral when comparing the coaches, no one had anything but pure praise for the very humble O’Brien.
Considering all that the team had to go through to even compete, it is astonishing that they are going home with a trophy. Now that all has been said and done, few would dispute that the USA men’s deaf volleyball team has put the ace back in replacements.
Posted: 06 Aug 2011Return to top
by Derrick Behm
Gallaudet’s turf is familiar to Canadian Mari Klassen, a star Outside Hitter for Canada’s Women Volleyball—she is a student at Gallaudet University. Klassen also plays Gallaudet Women’s Volleyball under Lynn Ray Boren, the head coach of the USA Women’s team. Here at the Friendship Games, she plays against her own Gallaudet teammates on the Canadian side.
“For the first few days being back at Gallaudet, I felt like I was a student,” Klassen said. “But after a few days of mentally correcting myself, I was able to settle down as a Canadian player.”
Klassen’s biggest struggle is not with her novice teammates, but with the fact that Coach Boren knows her weaknesses.
“I know some of the USA’s weaknesses and Boren’s coaching style, but Boren knows that too, so they continue to throw surprises at us,” Klassen shook her head. “They know how to win their games—and sometimes it is tough for me to refrain from asking for advice.”
Klassen will not have to wait for too long, she will return to Gallaudet in less than two weeks for the volleyball training camp.
On the Canada team, only three players are veterans. Klassen, 20 years old, participated in volleyball since she was in fourth grade. Most of her family members are also avid athletes like herself, with volleyball being their favorite. Her parents were her interpreters for her high school volleyball practices and games.
Klassen participated in the Pan-Am games in Venezuela in 2007, which Canada’s Women Volleyball got the gold.
“Our team may be young, but we have a lot of potential growth,” Klassen speculated. “I believe that we have a good chance of going to the Olympics—which is why we must rank in the top two at Pan-Am in Brazil this November.”
Canada Women’s Volleyball disbanded in 2001 and formed again in 2007. “However, there is more consistency with our team now and we can focus on becoming stronger,” Klassen said.
“We still pay for most of the fees ourselves, but we do have support from Canada Deaf Sports Organization (CDSO),” Klassen said. Like many American athletes, Klassen understands the struggle of finding funds to compete internationally.
With her loyalty fully dedicated to the Canadians this week, Klassen hopes to play her best for the bronze in Friendship Games’ Women’s Volleyball. Afterwards, she will shift her mind back to being a Gallaudetian, playing under Coach Boren.
Posted: 06 Aug 2011Return to top
by Derrick Behm
WASHINGTON, DC—Is it in the genes? Quarterbacks Peyton, Eli, and their father, Archie Manning; Dale Earnhardt and Earnhardt Jr.; Ken Griffey and Griffey Jr.; and Pau and Marc Gasol—all share similar gifts in professional sports. Now, here at Friendship Games, apparently the same genes exist hand-in-hand with deaf genes. The Lehmanns from the United States of America and the Kasits’ky family from Ukraine both carry this special gene.
Interestingly enough, both families are a part of the two best teams for Women’s Volleyball at the Friendship Games. Leonid Kasits’ky is the head coach of the Ukraine Women’s Volleyball team. He coaches his wife and his daughter, Nina Khramtsova (#17) and Yuliya Kasits’ka (#9). Ray Lehmann is the assistant coach for the USA Women’s Volleyball team, for which his daughter, Shana Lehmann (#5) plays. Lehmann’s son, Scott (#5), plays for the USA Men’s Volleyball team.
Yuliya and her husband Oleksandr Prokhorchuk—who also dons the same number, 9, for Ukraine Men’s Volleyball—just had a baby together three months ago. They both knew each other since they were 10 years old in grade school. Yuliya says that although her parents were both outstanding athletes who took her to many volleyball games, it was her friends in school who made her interested in volleyball.
Leonid met Nina through volleyball before USSR broke up into Ukraine and other countries. When Ukraine became an official country, Nina began to play volleyball on an international level. In 2002, Leonid became the coach and by 2005, the trio and their outstanding team won the gold against Japan at Deaflympics in Australia.
The family agrees that it was one of their proudest moments in their volleyball career. They also went on to win every European Deaf Sport Organization (EDSO) Volleyball Tournament (‘03, ‘07, ‘11), the World Championships in 2008, and the Taipei Deaflympics in 2009.
Their secret to success is having good sportsmanship, communication, and faith in succeeding. Being an all-around athlete, but more passionate in volleyball crafts them into excellent volleyball players and coach.
Leonid said, “I look at my wife and daughter as players during volleyball. I treat them the same, but I am also quicker to discipline them to help them improve.”
The Lehmann siblings agree that having a father who is passionate about volleyball and a mother who always shows up at their volleyball games contribute to their love for volleyball.
Ray Lehmann joined club volleyball at Gallaudet in 1973. After graduation, he continued to play in Deaflympics 1981 (West Germany) where USA placed 5th and in 1985 (Los Angeles, California) where USA placed 4th. Shana and Scott both watched Ray play in Men’s Volleyball league growing up.
“I was interested in volleyball ever since I watched Dad play,” Shana said. Shana started playing volleyball in middle school, and by the time she was in 8th grade, she played for Maryland School for the Deaf Varsity Volleyball as an outside hitter. Upon entering Gallaudet and international volleyball, she became a Libero.
Scott said, “The last time I officially played volleyball was in high school. It is a big jump from playing in high school to an international level.” Scott was always spread out to various sports throughout high school and college. He admits that it is hard to become motivated and involved in volleyball if options are limited. Playing at Friendship Games is his first time playing internationally.
Shana, whose team settled for silver against Ukraine in Taipei, will continue to compete internationally. Ray and Shana will go to Brazil for Pan-Am this November, and Scott is also looking forward to joining the Men’s Volleyball team there.
Like Leonid, Ray looks at Shana as a player instead of a daughter during practices and games. “And what makes us successful?” Ray asked. “We have a great team who play together physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.”
Maybe it is more than just the genes—perhaps it’s the passion that flows within their veins.
Posted: 05 Aug 2011Return to top
by Hannah Jo Mounty-Weinstock
Do the names Chris Cant, Les Deason, Rebecca Johannes, Neal Kenzakowski, and Jung Park mean anything to you? If you are a player, coach, or spectator at the 2011 Volleyball Friendship Games, they should, because they are the officials calling the games this year. Sign what you want about referees, but at the end of the play, the only signs that most influence scores are theirs.
These five officials have over 66 years of officiating between them: Deason 17, Jung 14, Cant and Kenzakowski 13 each, and Johannes nearly 10. Kenzakowski started officiating at age 16. They have officiated at the middle school, recreational, club, high school, and collegiate level, and with the Friendship Games, at the international level.
By day, Cant is an information technology contractor; Deason is a tile installer; Johannes is a civil engineer and has a six-month-old baby; Kenzakowski is a substitute teacher; and Jung is a financial auditor who also coaches the women’s club team at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
The fearless leader of the pack, as the others referred to her, is Johannes, who is approaching her tenth year as a volleyball official. In fact, Johannes played on the Catholic University women’s volleyball team when Patrick O’Brien, USA team director and interim men’s coach, was coach of the Gallaudet University women’s volleyball team. She has continued to work with O’Brien over the years in a variety of capacities. She has frequently officiated at Gallaudet games, and was asked specifically by USA Deaf Volleyball to referee the Friendship Games. The others said that they probably would not have been involved in the games if not for Johannes. Johannes also stated that she likes to officiate deaf games because it gives her a chance to practice her signing skills.
When asked how she became a referee, Johannes joked, “Those who can’t play can officiate.” Her colleagues echoed her response as she continued explaining that the game of volleyball is “gray” as opposed to black and white, so “when you have officials who don’t know volleyball they tend to stray away from the gray,” which interferes, consequently, with the “integrity of the game.” Johannes and Kenzakowski both referred to the game as “kind of an art” that they wish to master through officiating. Johannes added that her father is also a referee “so it was a family thing for [her].” Nostalgically, Jung also added that if his body could take it, he would much rather be playing than officiating.
How does one become a referee? Said Kenzakowski, “We are all students of the game.” He described the different avenues: “There’s USA volleyball, [which is] the main governing body, [there is the] NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association, [and there is also] the national federation in other countries…depends what avenue you go.” Kenzakowski went on to add, “You have a rulebook, you have to read and study it, and you have to attend annual clinics.” Jung jumped in to note “[Becoming certified includes taking] certification classes and clinics, passing written and performance examinations, and keeping up with rule changes.” Jung, the only FIVB-certified official in the group, hopes to work at the Olympics someday.
When asked whether there are any major differences between officiating for hearing teams and for deaf teams, Jung said with great conviction, “Honestly, there really isn’t…that’s what’s great about volleyball.” Kenzakowski cited the challenge of “communication, getting a message across to them.” The others agreed that there are some communication challenges, but only rarely have such challenges caused further issues. When asked to clarify if such issues are similar to those of international play in general, Johannes explained that the “[official] verbiage is in English so it’s a little bit easier for us.” Jung clarified that components such as accents, context, and tempo make it difficult to understand even familiar English words, but that it is somewhat easier with universal terminology. He also admitted “some things we [the referees] let go in the name of communication.” As an example, Jung said that with deaf teams on the court, officials are often more lenient about how far a coach must stay away from the court, because they understand that to communicate, the coach must be within visual range of the players.
Jung then shifted his focus slightly to add, “I think it’s neat [to work with deaf teams] because you’re being exposed to a world you don’t know about.” Johannes began to laugh and her colleagues quickly joined in and egged her on to tell an interesting anecdote: “When we were in the technical delegates meeting, I was watching John [Knetzger] sign. The Canadians had an interpreter, and she was interpreting in French, then she decided to switch to English. Then the Venezuelan interpreter was speaking in Spanish. I know all these languages, and my mind was all over the place!”
How are FIVB rules different from NCAA Rules? Responded one official, “With the NCAA there’s a little bit more of the American style where coaches get a little bit more anxious and there’s a lot more communication.” In college, there’s more involvement with the coach, so “if an official made a decision you don’t have to like it you have to move on.” Most tellingly, Jung said, “If I’m a player, I don’t want the game to be about how much my coach yells.” Instead, he believes that as a player, the game should be about enjoying oneself, and having a good time with friends and teammates.
What is the biggest challenge of your job? Said Johannes, “Trying to please everyone but you can’t.” Kenzakowski added that officiating is about achieving “a balance, knowing when to call things and when not to.” Jung noted the importance of “not taking things home,” and not taking things personally. “I think most of us do a good job of that, but every so often there’s an incident that just bugs you.”
So remember folks, referees are people too. Their job, as Johannes so eloquently stated, is to “maintain the integrity of the game.” So, as sportsmanship banners around the world read: “Let the players play, let the coaches coach, and let the officials officiate!”
Posted: 03 Aug 2011Return to top
by Hannah Jo Mounty-Weinstock
As the 2011 Friendship Games commence, the U.S.A. deaf women’s volleyball team welcomes several new additions to its squad. Three women in particular, Emma Racila, Madison Nitta, and Sarah Tubert, have forged a particularly unique bond: they are hard of hearing individuals who were raised orally in mainstream schools. In addition, Madi and Emma are just now learning how to sign, while Sarah is using this experience to polish the ASL skills she has fostered for around a decade now. All three of them rely on hearing aids to function as hard of hearing individuals when out in the world. On the court however, they are required to remove their hearing aids and play without the familiar sounds they have depended on to participate in the game until this point.
Emma Lynn Racila, 23, of Fort Myers, Florida, stands a proud 6’ 1” and plays outside hitter (OH). Racila attended Bishop Berot High School, and then went on to the College of Charleston for her undergraduate degree. She played two years on Charleston’s Division 1 volleyball team. Following graduation, Racila went on to earn a master’s degree in environmental policy from Florida Gulf Coast University, where she played two more years of Division 1 ball. Racila’s involvement in volleyball is quickly approaching 13 years.
In her 23 years, the only significant relationship that she has had with the deaf community and deaf education occurred while she was in a pre-kindergarten class and learned very basic ASL. Racila notes that the county in which she attended school did have a deaf and hearing impaired program, but Racila and her parents chose at the time not to be involved in it.
Although Racila’s involvement in the deaf community has been minimal until now, her interest in deaf people and in American Sign Language runs deep. In fact, Racila explains that in concluding her master’s degree, she completed a final project that “involved a lot of research [on deaf people, deaf culture and the history of both]” and as a result, she was “well educated on the culture” before immersing herself in it by joining the deaf national team. Racila also announced that she will be an assistant coach of the Gallaudet University women’s volleyball team this fall.
Madison “Madi” Aiko Nitta, 21, is originally from Manhattan Beach, California, and is an alumna of Mira Costa High School; a mainstream school where she did not have an interpreter. Nitta is now a rising senior and fourth year varsity volleyball player at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, an NCAA Division 1 athletic program and a member of the MAC conference. The 5’5 defense specialist has been playing for 12 years, and has played both beach and indoor volleyball.
Sarah Jeinson Tubert, age 17, hails from Burbank, California. From the time that Tubert was in the second grade through her recent 2011 graduation from Burbank High School, Tubert has been enrolled in the TRIPOD program, for deaf and hard of hearing students through the Burbank Unified School District. As Tubert describes, this program allows for deaf students to be taught alongside hearing students in a mainstream environment with the assistance of interpreters as well as teachers who can sign. Consequently, Tubert knows ASL, and according to Racila, “has been huge in interpreting.” She has been playing for around eight years, and has experienced levels of play ranging from a middle school team, a Parks and Recreation club team, and her high school’s volleyball team. Tubert will be a freshman at Gallaudet University in the fall and hopes to be a part of their Division 3 volleyball program. Her prodigious skills as a setter are intensified by her 5’ 11” height.
The intrigue of this tremendous trio is in the knowledge that they have played the same game in two worlds: hearing and deaf. When asked what the major differences were, the athletes played off each others’ answers. A major difference that they noted was the level of passion that the players have for one another and for the game. Nitta shared that in her opinion, “there’s more heart in the game for deaf people.” With great admiration in her voice, she added, “I feel like hearing people play for money and for themselves, but deaf people play as a team, hands down.” Racila and Tubert echoed her thoughts and added that on a deaf team, the players hold each other less accountable for errors in the game. A mistake on the court is often met with reassuring and supportive comments like “It’s okay, next time” or “Don’t worry, it’s fine.” For them, it is a nice change from a hearing team where players feel like their teammates will blame them if they should make an error.
However, the transition was not without its complications. The triad agreed that the largest complication they have faced is communication. Of the three, only Sarah knows ASL. Both Racila and Nitta expressed that being in the deaf world and not knowing how to sign is similar to being in another country in that, “[deaf people] are willing to slow down and take the time to show you…they make the effort if you do.” In other words, the pair feel that by merely making an effort to learn ASL makes the other players more patient with them and more open to teaching them and playing cooperatively with them. The threesome also explained that communication during international game play is even more difficult than during practice as they are not able to use their hearing aids. In her own words, Racila explains this difficulty: “Ironically, I have a fear of missing things in the hearing world [as a hard of hearing individual] and in the deaf world I have the same fear of missing things [being unable to sign proficiently and unable to hear on the court the way she is used to hearing in her day to day life].”
The Three Musketeers, as they have been christened, believe that they share an extraordinary bond both on and off the court. On the court, they feel as though their bond gives them a greater level of comfort with one another, both in play and in expressing concerns and giving advice. Off the court, they have really enjoyed the opportunity to share and compare their life experiences as hard of hearing, oral people who grew up in predominately hearing environments. Racila claims that “being thrown into a deaf world, had Sarah and Madi not been here, would have been more difficult and lonely.” She adds that their more experienced teammate, returning player Katelyn Reese, has made the experience easier on them: “KT has also been a huge help, she came from mainstream schools too, so she understands what we’re going through.”
Trials and tribulations aside, the girls all agreed that they came out for the team with hopes to meet new people, from all over the world who are “just like” each of them. Moreover, they all share an even more honorable goal: to represent the U.S.A., and to play volleyball!
Hannah Jo Mounty-Weinstock is a senior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Posted: 02 Aug 2011Return to top
Wins battle of world’s best teams to take first place at the 2011 Friendship Games
In a match that featured spectacular digs, knuckleball serves, and floor-denting kills, Russia outlasted Ukraine in four sets, 21-25, 27-25, 25-19, and 25-20.
Russia proved that they were clearly the best team today, overcoming a first-set loss with three straight dominant set wins. The pivotal second set lasted into sudden death, with Russia emerging on top. The second set could have easily went the other way when Maxim Selyutin blew a chance to put the set away for Russia at 24-22, committing a service error. Ukraine nearly took the set, but a dominant kill by 6’6” Russian Georgy Pleshkevich put the set away at 27-25.
With the match even at 1-1, and Russia exploded to an 8-2 start in the third set. Ukraine played with little energy and visible frustration, leading to a 17-7 Russia lead at one point. A timeout helped Ukraine refocus and mount a furious comeback, cutting the lead to one at 19-18. But it was too little, too late. The Russian big men, Pleshkevich and Alexander Shuvaev, slammed the door shut on the set with a resounding block.
Up 2-1, Russia never looked back. Ukraine kept the score close in the fourth and final set, but Russia had momentum on their side, and inevitably pulled away. The match ended with a serving ace by Selyutin that dropped in the corner as the Ukraine team looked at each other in disbelief.
In recent history, Russian and Ukraine have switched back and forth the title of the world’s best deaf volleyball team. In 2009, Russia defeated Ukraine in Taipei for the gold. Ukraine earned their revenge last May in the European Deaf Sport Organization (EDSO) Volleyball Tournament, topping Russia for first place. Most recently, Ukraine dominated their round-robin matchup, winning in three sets. Today, Russia had the latest say in their rivalry, claiming the title of 2011 Friendship Volleyball Games Mens’ champion.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 6, 2011 – Any remaining doubts about the USA women’s rise to the upper echelons of deaf volleyball were removed Saturday afternoon as the team soundly defeated Ukraine, 25-13, 25-22, 25-12 to win the Volleyball Friendship Games at the Gallaudet University Field House. The USA finished the week 5-0, and Ukraine finished 3-2, with both losses to the USA.
In the first set, the USA took an early lead, fell behind briefly, then rode a string of nine kills and blocks by Katelyn Reese (San Jose, California) and Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Florida) to a 17-6 lead. Pia Marie Paulone (Fishers, Indiana) entered the set at 22-12, set up Reese for a kill, then delivered a service ace to put away the match, 25-13.
The second set was even through 11-11, then Racila and Justine Jeter (Noblesville, Indiana) delivered three kills to put the USA ahead, 14-11. The tenacious Ukraine women refused to give up. Oleksandra Tereshcuk and Olena Heriy had four kills, and Ukraine capitalized on several USA errors to take a 22-21 lead. Ludmila Mounty-Weinstock (Takoma Park, Maryland) came through with a block and kill, and Kristina Burke (North Port, Florida) lobbed the ball just inside the near sideline to give the USA a 25-22 win.
The USA was able to coast through the third set. Racila’s cross-court kill and Reese’s signature block gave the team an 8-3 lead at the first technical timeout. Reese and Mounty-Weinstock combined for four kills to put the USA ahead 16-9 at the second timeout. Racila’s service ace and Jeter’s two kills upped the score to 19-10. Mounty-Weinstock had a block and two kills in rapid succession. At 24-12, all that remained was for Paulone to come in and serve the final point. Reese delivered another of her signature kills, and the USA won the set, 25-12, and the match, 3-0.
Reese and Racila each had nine kills; Burke and Jeter had seven; and Mounty-Weinstock had five. Tubert had four very smart kills, flipping the ball over the net when Ukraine expected her to set.
Reese and Mounty-Weinstock had three well-placed blocks each, proving the adage that the best offense is a good defense. Shana Lehmann (Frederick, Maryland) had 16 successful receptions and 12 digs, including some that had spectators wondering, “How did she do THAT?” Tubert had 16 running sets and a total of 77 touches.
Tereshchuk led Ukraine with five kills, one block, and one service ace. She also had eight digs. Heriy and Iryna Mosiicuk each had four kills. Mosiicuk had a phenomenal 26 running sets and 79 touches.
Play continues Saturday at 6:00 p.m. with Ukraine and Russia vying for the men’s championship.Return to top
by Clayton Grossinger
The talented setter, Behm (Rochester, New York), led USA to a victory with his match-high 29 assists over Venezuela in three straight sets, 26-24, 25-19, and 25-15. U.S. men had lost to Venezuela in their first encounter 3-1 but this match that determined the third-place winner in the tournament saw a completely different U.S. team right off the bat.
In the first set, with Venezuela up 8-6, U.S. coach O’Brien called a time-out to calm his players down who seemed to be better than the other side but their miscues shot them in the foot. Venezuela continued their dominance until a game-changer point was made by the United States side when Behm made a save with his foot. U.S. took the momentum and continued to chomp on the lead as the Venezuelan side called their first time-out holding a 5-point lead at 22-17. U.S. side caught fire and with the fourth time-out in the set; Venezuela was only up 24-22. U.S. finally made their first real threat when Ervin made his first kill in the set. It could not have come at a better time as his kill made it a one point game. With a no-mercy block from McMillan (Frederick, MD), the U.S. side evened it out at 24-24. Lehmann (Frederick, MD) finished the amazing set with an ace of his own to put away Venezuela away 26-24.
In the second set, the teams picked it right up where they left it off in the first set, as they had an outstanding battle with each team never pulling away to more than a 6-point lead as it was USA up 13-12 by the second time-out in the set. A monster named McMillan (Frederick, MD) rose from the grave and decided he wanted to eat balls like the pacman as he made block after block (6 blocks, all in the first two sets). The Venezuelan men were visibly frustrated and animated in their huddle when down 16-12 at one point. By the time U.S. men were up 19-13, it seemed as if the Venezuelan side was falling apart and U.S. was taking control of the match. It was a beautiful thing as you could see the U.S. men finally meshing as a team and they took the second set 25-19.
The third set was no different for the U.S. side as they pulled away to a quick 13-6 lead. They never looked back as they gained confidence every point and by the second time-out in the set, they were up 16-6 and it was all but over. U.S. men were on cruise control through the rest of the set as they won it 25-15. The U.S. men did not disappoint in their second shot against the Venezuelan side as they grab the bronze in this tournament against all odds.
Contreras from the Venezuelan side had 18 assists as most of it went to his middle blocker, Gonzalez. He led all Venezuelan hitters with 8 kills and also had 4 blocks in the match.
Four U.S. hitters had over 6 kills with McMillan leading the way with 10 kills. U.S. accounted for 14 blocks in this match dominating upfront.Return to top
Earns berth in finals vs. top-seeded U.S.
The Ukraine Women’s team showed off some of the clout that won them the gold medal in the 2009 Deaflympics, defeating Japan in three consecutive sets, 25-17, 25-20, 25-15. It was Ukraine’s second sweep of Japan this week, the first coming earlier this week in round robin play.
In all three sets, Ukraine raced out to early leads and Japan could not recover enough to mount a substantial comeback. The closest Japan came was in the second set, when Japan went on a run to close the gap to 19-18, in Ukraine’s favor. Ukraine promptly turned it up, using superior serving and a heavy attack on the net, and finished the set on a 6-2 run, culminating in a 25-20 victory.
Japan came into this game bursting with energy and optimism, having battled the top-seeded U.S. team to a narrow 3-2 defeat. But the size and power of the Ukraine team were too much for the Japanese to handle.
The tall tandem of Oleksandra Tereshchuk and Iryna Kovalchuk had 10 and 7 kills, respectively. The entire Ukraine team combined for 9 blocks, constantly hindering Japan’s attacks, while most of Ukraine’s spikes went uncontested over the much smaller Japan team. Saki Ugaya had 12 kills, and veteran leader Keiko Suzuki added five of her own in the losing effort.
The Ukraine and U.S. finals matchup is a rematch of the 2009 Deaflympics gold-medal game, a game which Ukraine won with ease. However, when the two teams played in round robin play earlier this week, the U.S. displayed an inspiring effort and a 3-1 victory. The finals will be played at 3:30 PM ET tomorrow.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock, with reporting by Hannah Jo Mounty-Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 5, 2011 – Top-seeded Ukraine made short work of the USA, 25-10, 25-11, 25-13, in the first of two men’s semifinal matches during the 2011 Volleyball Friendship Games, Friday afternoon in the Gallaudet University Field House.
Illia Nikiforov had nine kills and Oleksandr Prokhorchuk had eight for Ukraine. Olug Antonyuk had four service aces. Volodymyr Zelenskyi had three blocks, including one that sent two USA players sprawling. For the USA, Brandon McMillan (Frederick, Maryland) had five kills, while Chad Ervin (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and Scott Lehmann (Frederick, Maryland) had four apiece.
Ukraine (4-0) will face second-seeded nemesis Russia (3-1), which defeated Venezuela later in the day, in Saturday’s men’s final at 6:00 p.m. The USA men (0-4) will play against Venezuela (1-3) for third place on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 5, 2011 – The first-seeded USA deaf women’s volleyball team defeated Canada, 25-5, 25-15, 25-9 Friday afternoon in the first women’s semifinal match of the Volleyball Friendship Games at Gallaudet University. With its victory, the team advances to Saturday’s final against Ukraine, which defeated Japan Friday evening. The final will be on Saturday, August 6 at 3:30 p.m.
In the first set, defense specialist Madison Nitta (Manhattan Beach, California) opened with three straight service aces, and outside hitter Justine Jeter (Noblesville, Indiana) had four successive service aces as the USA raced out to a 12-2 lead. Middle blocker Katelyn Reese had two blocks to up the score to 18-3, and a third block to clinch the 25-5 win.
In the second set, Canada took a 7-4 lead on the strength of two service aces and a kill by Mari Klassen. Sarah Tubert (Burbank, California) had three service aces, and a kill to bring the USA back into the set, and Jessica Israel (Frederick, Maryland), Ann Whited (Fishers, Indiana), and Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Florida) paced the USA attack with seven kills between them.
Ludmila Mounty-Weinstock (Takoma Park, Maryland) had five kills in the third set to lead the USA to its 25-9 match clincher. The USA started with an 8-0 run, and led by 18-3 late in the set.
Racila had six kills to lead the USA. Reese had three kills, and Jeter had eight service aces. Mari Klassen had 10 kills for Canada. Her team’s attack was decimated by hitter Kimberly Keba’s planned early departure from the competition.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 3, 2011 – The Russia deaf men’s team scored its second win of the 2011 Volleyball Friendship Games, defeating Venezuela, 25-13, 25-20, 25-20 Wednesday night in the Gallaudet University Field House. Russia (2-1) took the second seed in the tournament playoffs, while Venezuela (1-2) will be third seed. Russia will meet archrival Ukraine (3-0) in the semifinals on Friday, August 5, while Venezuela will play against the USA (0-3).
Russia’s Aleksandr Drozdov and Vladimir Shmygin combined for nine kills in the first set. The overmatched Venezuelan team managed only one kill in that set. Russia rested some of its starters in the second and third sets, and Venezuela was able to get back into the match with solid offensive performances by Jorge Contreras, Daniel Gonzalez, and Erickson Sanchez in the second set and Luis Rodriguez and Gonzales in the third. However, Russia prevailed in both sets to take the win.
Shmygin had three service aces to pace the Russians, while Yosse Blanco, Julio Montilla, and Sanchez had two apiece for Venezuela.Return to top
by Derrick Behm
WASHINGTON, DC—Wincing or defeat is neither in Ukraine’s vocabulary, nor America’s for the Men’s Volleyball game. While Ukraine easily brushed United States away with their second string for a 3-0 win, the American men proudly held their chins high and made the game fun.
With chants of “Monster!” while stomping the gym floor gleefully, the USA men brought on some excellent plays with their optimism. Chad Ervin successfully continued his signature lightning kills, but Ukraine brought on some of their own. Cory Behm (Rochester, New York)—a setter—successfully displayed his versatility by surprising the Ukrainians witth a couple of kills. Each set started out close, but Ukraine was always able to gather themselves to get ahead after the second timeout (16 points).
After two sets of losing to Ukraine, 25-12 and 25-18, Coach O’Brien pulled in some of his own second-stringers. Steve Haynie, the team’s venerable captain, contributed nice serves and saves. However, a mix up in the subbing—according to the International rule that only one player can replace another player (no three-way subbing)—cost the United States a yellow card and a point, ending the game 25 to 18.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 3, 2011 – The USA deaf women’s volleyball team continued its winning ways by defeating Japan in five sets, 20-25, 25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12 Wednesday afternoon on the third day of the Volleyball Friendship Games at the Gallaudet University Field House.
Victory did not come easily for the USA squad in this error-filled match. In the first set, the USA fell behind by four points at the first technical timeout, and never came closer than two points. Fatigue from the previous day’s match against Ukraine seemed to overtake several of the starters as they committed serve, hitting, and receiving errors.
In the second set, the USA fought back from a 4-7 deficit. Outside hitter Kristina Burke’s (Washington, DC) monster kill evened the score at 10-10, and middle blocker Katelyn Reese (San Jose, California) had a huge block to give the USA a 15-12 lead. From there, the team played well, with contributions by all starters, and tied the match at one set apiece.
In the third set, it seemed as if for every error, there was redemption. Outside hitters Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Florida) and Justine Jeter (Noblesville, Indiana) had three kills each, and Reese had two crushing blocks.
In the fourth set, both teams committed an uncharacteristic number of errors, and Japan was literally the last team standing.
Jeter opened the fifth, deciding set with two service aces, and setter Sarah Tubert (Burbank, California) had a very smart surprise dink to put the USA ahead, 4-3. Pia Marie Paulone (Fishers, Indiana) added a service ace to solidify the lead, but Japan fought back with two kills and a service ace to take an 11-9 lead. Burke and Jeter’s back-to-back kills and a ball handling error by Japan put the USA ahead by a point. Ludmila Mounty-Weinstock (Takoma Park, Maryland) ended the two-hour, 17-minute match with a resounding kill.
With its win, the USA (3-0) claimed the first seed in the playoffs, and will play fourth seed Canada (0-3) Friday at 1:00 p.m. Second seed Ukraine (2-1) will play third seed Japan (1-2) Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Individual leader statistics were not available at publication time, and will be added when they become available.Return to top
By Clayton Grossinger
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Setter Mosiichuk set the tempo for her team with 26 assists as Ukraine flattened Canada in three straight sets, 25-13, 25-18, and 25-17. Mosiichuk did not see much action in the third set as she had 22 assists in the first two sets alone.
The Ukrainian hitters had a field day sporting four players with at least 6 kills in this match. Middle blocker Tereshchuk led the way with 11 kills. Fellow middle blocker Heriy dominated upfront with her game-high 8 blocks. Ukraine also had 12 aces in this match that usually came late in sets to put Canada away.
Canada never stood a chance but they tried to keep it close with outside hitters Klassen and Keba mustering out an occasional kill. The teams will take a day off tomorrow (Thursday) and then action will return to action this Friday, August 5th, as the playoffs begin.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Outside hitter Emma Racila led the USA deaf women’s volleyball team to a four-set victory over perennial world and Deaflympic champion Ukraine Tuesday night at the Gallaudet University Field House. This is believed to be Ukraine’s first loss in international competition in at least six years.
The final score, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-15, does not begin to tell the story of the USA team’s stunning triumph. The first match was evenly contested, but Ukraine took advantage of an abnormally high number of USA serve and attack errors and staved off a late challenge. The USA hit only 16.21 percent of its attacks in the first set. In the second set, the 6’ 1” Racila, playing in international competition for the first time, amassed eight of her 16 kills for the night. Ukraine was visibly shaken and never recovered, committing serve, receive, attack, and dig errors throughout the third and fourth sets. The USA ruled the entire third set, at one time taking a ten-point lead. In the fourth set, both of the visibly tense Ukrainian coaches challenged the official score and two referee calls.
For the USA, outside hitter Kristina Burke had 12 kills, and outside hitter Justine Jeter added 10. Middle blocker Katelyn Reese scored five of her seven kills in the third set. Ukraine’s Oleksandra Tereshchuk had eight kills, while teammates Iryna Iurchenko and Maryna Mikulina each had five.
USA middle blocker Ludmila Mounty-Weinstock led all players with four blocks. Tereshchuk amassed three blocks for Ukraine, all in the first two sets.
The USA had 11 team service aces; Jeter had three, while Racila and Mounty-Weinstock each had two. The USA had 12 service errors. Ukraine had six service aces and 12 errors.
USA setter Sarah Tubert had 93 touches, with six running sets. Her counterpart on the Ukraine team, Yuliya Topchiyeva, had 65 touches and 13 running sets.
USA libero Shana Lehmann had 15 digs.
Ukraine (1-1 in round robin play) meets Canada (0-2) Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., while the USA (2-0) plays Japan (1-1) at 3:30 p.m.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 2, 2011 – The Japan deaf women’s volleyball team defeated Canada, 25-4, 25-22, 20-25, 25-13 on Tuesday evening, August 2, on the second day of the Volleyball Friendship Games in the Gallaudet University Field House.
Canada started slowly, but did well in the second set and upset Japan in the third before losing momentum in the fourth set.
Japan (1-1) was led by setter Saki Ugaya, who had 12 kills, four service aces, 94 touches, and 16 running sets. Keiko Suzuki added seven kills, and Nanako Hata had four more service aces. Canada outside hitters Mari Klassen and Kimberly Keba each had six kills; Klassen had three service aces, and teammate Genevieve Savard had four.
Canada dropped to an 0-2 record, and will play Ukraine on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Japan will play the USA on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.Return to top
by Derrick Behm
Continuing the rampage for the gold, Ukraine defeated Venezuela in Men’s Volleyball 3-0. While Venezuela came on strong during the first set, Ukraine bushed them away with murderous spikes. The first set ended with a killer spike by Illia Nikiforov (#4), winning 25 to 14.
Ukraine put their second string players in for the second set. They, too, brought on excellent game. Miquel Gonzalez, the captain for Venezuela, defended well—but Ukraine still won 25 to 18.
By the third set, Ukraine second-string men warmed up and staggered the Venezuelans 25 to 8.
Tomorrow, Ukraine will play against the winless United States. Venezuela will play Russia with the number two seeding on the line.Return to top
by Clayton Grossinger
The captain and setter of Russia team, Kudryashov, paved the way for Russia with 19 assists as they swept the United States team with a powerful broom in three straight sets, 25-14, 25-12, and 25-16. United States never had a chance from the beginning as the Russian men had 9 blocks in the match, diminishing any threat the U.S. hitters had.
The constant bane for the U.S. men was trying to handle the blazing serves of the Russian men as they had 16 total aces. Behm made most of his opportunities as he grabbed 16 assists for the U.S. side. Outside hitters Ervin and McMillan were given decent balls to hit throughout the match as the duo totaled 15 kills for the U.S side.
Along with Kudryashov setting the tempo for Russia, the middle blocker, Pleshkevich, had an all-around game as he led the team with 8 kills, 8 aces, and a couple blocks. Kudryashov spread the wealth around as ten different Russian players had a kill in this match.
The U.S. men look to bounce back against the tournament favorites, Ukraine, Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. ET. On the other side, the Russians side build on their momentum and take on the Venezuelan men Wednesday at 8:30 P.M. ET.
In the ‘battle of the Americas’ between the U.S. and Venezuela men’s teams, the Venezuelan national team came out victorious. After letting the first set slip through their fingers, Venezuela rebounded to win the next two sets decisively before edging out the U.S. in the fourth set for the victory.
The match was an untidy one, with both teams committing numerous unforced errors and net fouls. At the end of the match, Venezuela was the slightly more disciplined team, and has a ‘W’ to show for their effort.
Setter Jorge Contreras orchestrated the Venezuelan attack, tallying up 24 assists. Energetic Venezuelan libero Pedro Prieto added 4 digs. Brandon McMillan and Daniel Moreno led the U.S. with 9 kills each.
The U.S. team will play Russia at 1 PM ET tomorrow. Immediately following, Venezuela will take on another undefeated team, Ukraine, at 3:30 ET.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 1, 2011 – The Volleyball Friendship Games at Gallaudet University began today with four matches, two women’s and two men’s. In the first men’s match, Ukraine avenged its loss to Russia in the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics, winning in straight sets, 25-17, 25-18, 25-20.
No one player dominated statistically for either team. Oleksii Koshkarov (UKR) and Georgy Pleshkevich (RUS) each had 10 kills. Ukraine had four service aces, Russia three. Ukraine, however, blocked 12 shots to Russia’s four.
What the match lacked in individual stars, it made in drama. The two teams, archrivals for many years, traded long volleys and lightning kills. The defensive play was often sparkling, with players diving after the ball and making shots no one dreamed possible. Most dramatically, Russia’s Maxim Salmin chased down one ball, slid over 20 feet on the slick Field House floor, and ended up with a chin laceration that required an emergency room visit and five stitches.
Russia (0-1) plays the USA (1-0) on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., while Ukraine (1-0) plays Venezuela (0-1) on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
The United States deaf women’s volleyball team defeated Canada, 25-16, 25-15, 25-6 at the 2011 Volleyball Friendship Games on Monday, August 1 at Gallaudet University.
In this battle for North American bragging rights, the USA thoroughly dominated from start to finish, racing to 4-0, 7-0, and 5-0 leads. Outside hitter Kristina Burke led the team’s attack with 11 kills, followed by middle blocker Ludmila Mounty-Weinstock with 10 kills. Sarah Tubert had 70 touches and 13 running sets, libero Shana Lehmann had seven digs, and middle blocker Katelyn Reese blocked three shots. Canada’s Mari Klassen led her team with six kills.
Canada plays Japan Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. ET. The USA plays Ukraine Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET in a rematch of the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics final.Return to top
by Robert Weinstock
Washington, DC, August 1, 2011 – The Volleyball Friendship Games at Gallaudet University began today with four matches, two women’s and two men’s. In the first match, Ukraine, the Taipei Deaflympics women’s gold medal team, defeated Japan, the 2009 Deaflympics bronze medal team, in straight sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15.
Ukraine won the first set on the strength of its defense. Oleksandra Tereshchuk had three blocks, and Tereshchuk, Krystyna Ridosh, and Yuliya Topchiyeva had seven of the team’s nine digs.
Both teams unleashed their potent offenses in the second set. Ukraine’s 17 kills were distributed among five players. Tereshcuk had five, Iryna Iurchenko had four, and Maryna Nikulina and Iryna Kovalchuk had three apiece. Japan had 14 kills: Keiko Suzuki led the team with five and Rie Azumi contributed four.
Ukraine’s Olena Heriy had four kills to pace Ukraine in the third set. Nikulina had three more. Japan’s Saki Ugaya had one-third of her team’s points in this set.
Japan plays Canada on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m., and the USA plays Ukraine on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in a rematch of the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics final.Return to top