Air Force Spikers Take Warrior Games Bronze
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May. 14, 2010 The Air Force team bounced back from a loss to Army in sitting volleyball competition at the inaugural Warrior Games here yesterday, ultimately earning the bronze medal.
Air Force’s Matthew Bilancia hits the ball during the Warrior Games sitting volleyball bronze medal match against Army at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 13, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Marine Corps team earned the gold medal, and Army took the silver.
The Air Force team went 3-0 in preliminary play and matched up against an Army squad in the semifinals. The match went to three games, with the Army taking the first, 25-13.
The Air Force took the second game 25-22, and the Army came back to win the final game and the match, 15-12.
With a loss in the semifinal game, the Air Force team lost the chance to battle for gold or silver, but faced another Army team for the bronze.
The bronze medal was decided by a one-game match to 15 points. With the bronze in their sights, the pressure was on for the Air Force team to pick up its game.
“We had a rough first match, but we came back and pretended we were starting all over, and that’s what kept us focused,” 2nd Lt. Ryan McGuire said.
The Air Force team took an early 4-1 lead with help from key serves by Jennifer Stone. Key blocks by Matt Sanders and members of the “iron curtain” front line, as well as critical digs by McGuire in the backcourt, kept the Army team from gaining momentum.
“We were working together, but some of us had to get those back corners,” McGuire said. “They were definitely playing on our weaknesses, and we just had to fight back and get it back.”
Air Force continued its strong play and held Army to only five points in the bronze medal game.
“I am absolutely stoked about where we are,” said Tech. Sgt. Elisha Abercrombie, the Air Force assistant volleyball coach. “In the beginning, it was hard to tell, because a lot of our players had never touched a volleyball before. They came out here and dominated, and when I say that, I mean I would stand up and get light-headed because [I was] so excited. Every single game, whether we win or lose, everyone is proud.”