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Air Force Women Undefeated in Volleyball Title Defense

By Karen Edge
Special to American Forces Press Service

KELLY AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, May 13, 1999 – Air Force women defended their 1998 volleyball championship title by spiking all comers at this year's armed forces tournament here May 2-7.

The double round-robin contest posed a long, rigorous week for all the volleyball-slamming women, who were also looking for spots on the U.S. team going to the Military World Games Aug. 6- 18 in Zagreb, Croatia. The Air Force went 6-0 to bring home the gold. The Navy placed second with 4-2, trailed by the Army, 2-4, and the Marines, 0-6.

That the Air Force went undefeated wasn't for lack of effort from the other services. The Air Force just worked like a well- oiled machine, with precise passing, setting, spiking and blocking and strong defensive play.

"The Navy and Army teams really gave the Air Force a run for the money. Each game was tight. Hustle and good outside hitters worked well in favor of the Navy, and the Army's team had great unity," said Paul Prentice, base fitness center sports director. "The Marines couldn't seem to get it together. They had a lot of good individual players, but it seemed as if they couldn't work as a team. Their chemistry was off and it showed."

A closing ceremony at the base officers club wrapped up the events. The six top players, four Air Force and two Army, were named the tournament all-star team and each received real gold coins.

The Air Force all-stars are 1st Lt. Billeye Juarez, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Capt. Jenny Block, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.; and Capts. Lisa Harrington and Christine Biler, both of Los Angeles AFB, Calif. Army members are lst Lt. DeAnn Machlan of Fort Campbell, Ky., and 1st Lt. Deanna Lehn of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Some of the women now head to the U.S. team trials at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., July 24 through Aug. 4. Winners there will advance to the Military World Games in Croatia, sponsored by the International Military Sports Council.

Air Force players named to attend the trials are Juarez, Block and Harrington; Capt. Erin Carmichael, Vance AFB, Okla.; 1st Lt. Denise Freimuth, Randolph AFB, Texas; 2nd Lt. Tara Shambart, Holloman AFB, N.M.; and 2nd Lt. Tracey Smith, Dover AFB, Del.

Army candidates are Machlan, Lehn, and Capt. Debra Miller of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Navy members chosen are Lt. Lauren Nilsen, Naval Hospital Cherry Point, N.C.; Lt. j.g. Karen Schullian, USS Shiloh, Calif.; Lt. j.g. Marsha Heineman, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va.; and Ensign Stephanie Merrit, USS Tortuga, Va.

Marines making the cut are 1st Lt. Sue Bird, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.; Lance Cpl. Nyla Johnson, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego; and Lance Cpl. Alexis Montgomery, 3rd Marine Air Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

[Karen Edge is a contract base newspaper reporter and editor at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.]

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Navy player tries a slam and she and her Air Force blockers seemingly hang in the air at the 1999 Armed Forces Women's Volleyball Championship at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. The Air Force went 6-0 to win its second straight title. The Navy finished second at the May 2-7 tournament.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA trio of Air Force blockers brace as a flying Navy player prepares to spike the volleyball at the 1999 Armed Forces Women's Volleyball Championship at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. The Air Force went 6-0 to win its second straight title. The Navy finished second at the May 2-7 tournament.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageOnce the whistle blows a Navy server sends the volleyball flying at the 1999 Armed Forces Women's Volleyball Championship at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. The Air Force went 6-0 to win its second straight title. The Navy finished second at the May 2-7 tournament.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Capt. Jenny Block gets off the ground at the 1999 Armed Forces Women's Volleyball Championship at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, and sends a return to the Navy defense. Block and her Air Force teammates went 6-0 to win their second straight title. The Navy finished second at the May 2-7 tournament.  
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