Rwanda face Japan on Friday night in women’s sitting volleyball at the ongoing Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The World ParaVolley began on August 24 and will end on September 5 according to the schedule for men’s and women’s competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Team Rwanda is drawn from Group B alongside the United States, China and Russia. Meanwhile, group A includes; Japan, Canada, Brazil and Italy.
The Rwanda team is the African women’s sitting volleyball champion.
Rwanda is the first sub-Saharan women’s team in all-sport history to compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Meanwhile, with the United States leading 24-22 and set to serve for match point in a must-see women’s sitting volleyball fixture on Wednesday, the Russian Paralympic Committee requested a time out.
US coach Bill Hamiter took the opportunity to give his team a little advice.
“Let your training do the work,” Hamiter told his players during the break.
The Americans returned to the field at Makuhari Messe Hall, and Heather Erickson immediately served for the decisive point that gave the United States a 3-0 victory over RPC (25-19, 25-15, 25-22) and propelled the Paralympic defender. gold medalists in the semi-finals.
The United States, which scored the last five points of the third set, will face Brazil, a 3-1 winner over Italy, in the first semi-final on Friday. China and Canada will face off in the other semi-final.
“We know them pretty well,” said Hamiter of Brazil. “Sure, we’re going to start watching the video we have, breaking things down, starting our preparations tonight, actually, so we can go over our training plans tomorrow.”
The United States and the PRC entered the match with identical 1-1 records in the preliminary round of Pool B. They each beat Rwanda in straight sets but lost 3-0 by decision to China. The United States was emerging from defeat against China.
“We did better today than against China,” Hamiter said. “I don’t know if we attacked better. I think it was maybe more parts at the right time, things like that.
“Our view of the pitch was much better today – seeing the blocks, seeing what’s open, taking smart shots, limiting our mistakes – all those little things that matter.”
After the Americans won the first two sets with relative ease, the RPC fought back to lead most of the time in the third set and threatened to extend the game.
“I don’t know if they felt as much pressure as I did,” Hamiter said of his players. “In every game I’ve coached, we always had to win one of those games to qualify for the medal rounds. So we’re used to it, but it’s always one of those things where you sweat.
“I liked the first two sets, then this third set (we) had to struggle a bit, but then (had) a big comeback.”
The United States hit back and eventually tied it at 20-20 on a serve from Lora Webster. RPC scored the next two to take a 22-20 lead, but the Americans then continued their final swing to put the game aside.
“What we did today is a direct result of what we tried to work on yesterday,” said Webster. “In the third set, we came out behind, and we had to dig a hole, and there was no frenzied energy.
“Everyone was calm. We all knew what we had to do. And it shows that what we worked on yesterday really came out on the pitch, and I’m just excited about what we did.
According to Webster, as the Americans head into the semifinals, they will focus on what they can control on their side of the net.
“People are going to falter, but it’s a team sport for a reason,” said Webster. “So we have to find a way to pick ourselves up, and we’ve done it here. And as long as we keep doing that, we’ll be on the right path for the semi-finals and hopefully the finals. “