FORT MYERS, Fla. - Former FGCU volleyball player Emma Racila led the USA Deaf Volleyball team to the championship of the 2011 Friendship Games at Gallaudet University Saturday. The USA, coached by Lynn Ray Boren, went 5-0 during the week-long tournament, defeating Canada, Japan, and international power Ukraine.
The Ukraine had not lost in international competition in six years, but Racila’s USA team swept the team 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-12) in the championship match Sunday. Racila played in every set of the team’s five matches throughout the tournament and led the USA in points (62) and kills (51), which ranked her second among all players in the tournament.
The USA, which was playing together as a team for the first time, started the tournament by defeating Canada 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-6) on Aug. 1 and then came back the next day to defeat Ukraine 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-15). The victory over Ukraine marked the team’s first international loss in over six years.
The Americans then played their toughest match of the tournament against Japan on Aug. 3, winning 3-2 (20-25, 25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12) in the final match of pool play. On Saturday, the USA swept Canada 3-0 (25-5, 25-15, 25-9) to advance to the championship.
That victory led to the three-set sweep of Ukraine in the finals, in which Racila recorded a team-high nine kills.
To qualify for international play, athletes must have hearing loss of 55 decibels or greater in the better ear. Athletes are prohibited from using hearing aids or cochlear implant aids during sanctioned competitions.