STATESVILLE, N.C. — Team USA's women's sitting volleyball team took home the gold in Saturday's match against Rwanda, defeating them 75-31 with a total of three sets. The USA women's team went on to beat the Russian Paralympic Committee in Pool B on Sept. 1 and will face off against Brazil in the semifinals at 5:30 a.m. Sept. 3 (ET).
Emma Schieck of Statesville was among the winners as the match marked her Paralympic debut
When she was 7 years old, Emma Schieck was at cheerleading practice. But her mind was elsewhere.
"I remember a minute or two into the cheer session getting up and sneaking out of the back so I could go back to the volleyball gym," she said. "Because that's where I wanted to be and that's what I loved. And then, the rest is history."
Complications with Schieck's birth caused nerve damage to her left shoulder and arm, causing a brachial plexus injury. She cannot fully straighten or rotate her left arm.
Despite that, the South Iredell High School grad became a star standup volleyball player.
"I toss and hit with the same hand," she said. "A typical volleyball player would hold their hands like this when they're passing, I hold mine differently so that my platform is even, it's just little things like that."
In high school, Schieck was introduced to sitting volleyball. It was a tough version of the support to adjust to.
"It was not always easy but I definitely am really, really happy that I stuck with it," Schieck said.
Now she's an established member of Team USA as an outside hitter, helping them win a world championship in 2019.
This weekend, she'll make her Paralympic debut.
"People have all been so nice," she said. "We do pin trading here in the village. It gives me a reason to say hi to people."
Her focus is on helping her team win gold.
But after that, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student wants to help raise awareness for para and adaptive sports.
"I did not know about sitting volleyball until sitting volleyball found me," she said. "I really hate that because it's an incredible sport. I think about the people like me that have disabilities and don't know about sitting volleyball or other adaptive sports, and their lives could be changed for the better if they did."