WASHINGTON - The United States of America women's deaf volleyball team captured its first gold medal at the World Deaf Championships here Friday night in the Field House. Team USA defeated Ukraine in straight sets, 25-19, 25-11, 25-21, to win the 2016 World Deaf Championships hosted by Gallaudet University.
Gallaudet women's volleyball head coach Lynn Ray Boren guided Team USA during the multi-week tournament (July 6-15). Rising junior Darriyan Thomas and incoming freshman Adele Daniels were the only current Bison women's volleyball players on Team USA while six former Bison players (Kristina Choate, Kali Frowick, Ludmila Mounty-Weinstock, Sarah Tubert, Ann Whited and Katelyn Zrnovoj) helped the red, white and blue. The other members of Team USA included Cali Bunn, Abby Jensen, Heather Kerley, Jordan Kohl, Kelly Kyle and Sierra Stultz.
Team USA waltzed through the preliminarily rounds with a perfect 6-0 record and only dropped one set to Japan to go with five shutouts. Team USA defeated Turkey in the quarterfinals and Japan in the semifinals in straight sets before the gold medal match against Ukraine.
"It is hard to even describe," said Boren about the feeling of winning gold. "We have been working towards this for over four years. I was nervous during the match. It was great to see us win. It is uplifting that we finally got gold!"
Four different Team USA members earned All-Star Awards including Tubert (Best Setter), Jensen (Best Receiver), Kyle (Best Digger) and Mounty-Weinstock (Best Spiker). Former Bison and current Team Canada member Julia Wolff earned Best Blocker honors. Japan's Mio Nakata was selected as the tournament's Best Server.
In the past two World Deaf Championships, Team USA finished with a silver medal in 2012 (Sofia, Bulgaria) and a bronze medal in 2008 (Buenos Aires, Argentina).
Prior to the World Deaf Championships, Gallaudet University hosted the Pan American (PanAm) Deaf Volleyball Regional Qualifying Tournament (June 30-July 4) where Team USA defeated Brazil in straight sets in the championship on July 4. The victory clinched USA's spot in the 2017 Deaflympics. Team USA didn't drop a set in five matches.
Team USA finished fourth in the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria and won silver at the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan.
"The PanAm matches really helped us prepare for the world championships," said Boren. "It was crazy to have two events back-to-back in a three-week span. We are happy we were able to win both tournaments in front of our fans."
Team USA earned five awards in the PanAm games; Frowick (Best Receiver), Tubert (Best Setter), Thomas (Best Digger), Mounty-Weinstock (Best Server) and Jensen (Best Spiker).
NOTE: The U.S. Deaf Men's Volleyball Team finished fifth overall at the 2016 World Deaf Championships and second at the PanAm Deaf Volleyball Regional Qualifier. This was the program's first appearance in the World Championships.
U.S. Deaf Women's Volleyball Results at 2016 World Deaf Championships
Match 1: USA 3, Brazil 0 (25-11, 25-11, 25-12)
Match 2: USA 3, Canada 0 (25-5, 25-13, 25-17)
Match 3: USA 3, Japan 1 (25-16, 25-17, 15-25, 25-20)
Match 4: USA 3, Poland 0 (25-14, 28-26, 25-12)
Match 5: USA 3, Turkey 0 (25-12, 25-10, 25-13)
Match 6: USA 3, Ukraine 0 (25-15, 25-10, 25-18)
Match 7: USA 3, Turkey 0 (25-9, 25-10, 25-5) - Quarterfinal
Match 8: USA 3, Japan 0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-15) - Semifinal
Match 9: USA 3, Ukraine 0 (25-19, 25-11, 25-21) - Championship
U.S. Deaf Women's Volleyball Results at 2016 PanAm Deaf Regional Qualifier
Match 1: USA 3, Brazil 0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-17)
Match 2: USA 3, Canada 0 (25-7, 25-15, 25-10)
Match 3: USA 3, Aregentina 0 (25-7, 25-6, 25-8)
Match 4: USA 3, Canada 0 (25-8, 25-7, 25-16) - Semifinal
Match 5: USA 3, Brazil 0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-16) - Championship
Photo courtesy of Brian Morris