Former Texas Lutheran University Women's Volleyball player Jillian Williams has been named as one of the 12 women who will compete for the United States Sitting Volleyball Team at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
A native of Odem, Texas, and a graduate of Sinton High School in Sinton, Texas, Williams played for TLU in 2015 as a true freshman. She appeared in 22 matches and made six starts. She collected 41 kills and 23 blocks. After being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma (a rare cancer of the bone or soft tissue) while in her freshman year at TLU, Williams completed 26 rounds of chemotherapy in 34 weeks and had rotationplasty surgery. Rotationplasty surgery involved surgeons amputating the lower portion of her left leg and reattaching her ankle and foot (with a rotation of 180 degrees) to the upper portion of her leg. The ankle and foot were rotated upon reattachment so that the ankle joint functions like a knee joint.
In 2017, Williams received the Sports Imports/American Volleyball Coaches Association Courage Award. She accepted the award at the 2017 AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet and attended the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship Final Four in Kansas City. Williams, a 2020 graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, played on the 2019 Parapan American Games team that won the gold medal.
Nine players return from the 2016 Paralympic team that won gold in Rio de Janeiro: Tia Edwards, Heather Erickson, Katie Holloway, Kaleo Kanahele Maclay, Monique (Burkland) Matthews, Nicky Nieves, Lexi Shifflett, Lora Webster and Bethany Zummo.
Webster will be playing in her fifth Paralympic Games. Holloway and Erickson will be playing in their fourth. Maclay will be playing in her third. Whitney Dosty, Emma Schieck and Williams will make their Paralympic debuts in Tokyo.
The U.S. Women's Sitting Team's Head Coach is Bill Hamiter, who made his Paralympic debut with the team in 2008. Assistant Coach Michelle Goodall will be working her second Paralympic Games, and Assistant Coach Jon Aharoni will be making his debut in Tokyo.
"We're excited about our Paralympic roster and the strength of the team," Hamiter said. "We have a good mix of experienced and newer players. "Our strength has been and still is our offense, especially our transition offense. But we're also pretty good from the service line. Those bode well for us."
The U.S. Women's Sitting Team has medaled at every Paralympics since 2004. Prior to winning gold in Rio de Janeiro, the team took silver in London and Beijing and bronze in Athens.
The team will train and acclimate in the Japanese city of Ichinomiya on Aug. 15-20 prior to heading for Tokyo. The Paralympic Opening Ceremony will be Aug. 24 with the Sitting Volleyball competition running Aug. 27-Sept. 5. The Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, postponed until 2021, were delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All team nominations are subject to United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee approval.
U.S. Paralympic Women's Sitting Volleyball Team:
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
1 Lora Webster (MB, 5-11, Point Lookout, N.Y.)
2 Bethany Zummo (L, 5-3, Dublin, Calif.)
3 Lexi Shifflett (S/L, 5-4, Waseca, Minn.)
5 Katie Holloway (OH, 6-3, Lake Stevens, Wash.)
6 Heather Erickson (OPP, 5-11, Fayetteville, N.C.)
7 Monique Matthews (MB/OH, 6-0, Ardmore, Okla.)
8 Whitney Dosty (OH/OPP, 6-3, Tucson, Ariz.)
9 Tia Edwards (OH/MB, 5-7, Skiatook, Okla.)
11 Jillian Williams (MB/OPP/OH, 5-10, Odem, Texas)
12 Emma Schieck (OH, 5-7, Statesville, N.C.)
14 Kaleo Kanahele Maclay (S, 5-6, Edmond, Okla.)
16 Nicky Nieves (MB/OH, 5-10, Kissimmee, Fla.)
4 Maddy Ball (OH, 5-7, Delray Beach, Fla.)
10 Sydney Satchell (L, 5-2, Oklahoma City, Okla.)
13 Nichole Millage (OPP, 5-7, Champaign, Ill.)
15 Annie Flood (S/OPP, 5-8, Salem, Ore.)
18 Courtney Baker (OH, 5-9, Crofton, Ky.)
Head Coach: Bill Hamiter
Assistant Coach: Michelle Goodall
Assistant Coach: Jon Aharoni
Athletic Trainer: Kat King
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Team Manager: Mark Herrin