Air Force Volleyball Team Remains Unbeaten
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 13, 2010 The Air Force sitting volleyball team took down two Army teams May 11 and yesterday to finish undefeated in pool play and advance to the semifinals at the inaugural Warrior Games here.
Head Coach Nicki Marino and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Elisha Abercrombie talk with the Air Force team during the Warrior Games sitting volleyball match against Army at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 12, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
With only a week and a day of formal practice, Head Coach Nicki Marino said, the Air Force volleyball team stuck to the basics, which has helped them win.
“They are so excited to be out here, and they are really doing a great job of just being a team,” Marino said. “They did a great job of just slowing things down and getting our passes up and really digging in and getting a lot of balls up. We are just frustrating other teams. It’s fun.”
In the first round of pool play May 11, the Air Force team defeated the Army 1 team in two games, 27-25 and 25-16. The Air Force team won its second game by forfeit, and its third match, with the Army 4 team, was decided in three games.
The first game of the match went to the Army team, 26-24.
“We rallied together to rebound from the first game,” said Matt Sanders, the Air Force team captain, who also made the last kill of the match. “When someone made a mistake, we said ‘It’s OK, we’ll get them on the next play,’ and we got them on the next play.”
The Air Force team answered back in the second game, 25-17, forcing the teams to play a final game for the match. The Air Force scored early in the third match, and with one point remaining to win, Marino called time out.
“We don’t need heroes; we just need basics,” Marino said she told her team during the last match. “They really wanted it, so there wasn’t much we as coaches needed to do at that point.”
The Air Force team won the last game, 15-7.
One Air Force team member attributed the team’s success to its “iron curtain” defense.
“That’s our front line,” said retired Staff Sgt. Richard Tackett. “When they serve the volleyball over, we put it back down and force them to play. I think that when we can serve the ball over and force them to play us that we are stronger, and we put our hands up to play really good defense. We put the pressure on them, and it’s smooth sailing from there.
“We’re going to proceed until we win gold,” he added. “We’re not going to stop.”