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2nd Space Operations Squadron defeats reigning volleyball champions

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Michael Horvat with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron attempts to hit the ball past Scott Erway with the 22nd Space Operations Squadron during the 2019 intramural volleyball championship game at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, April 18, 2019. Intramural sports increase unit and base camaraderie, reduces work stress and emphasizes teamwork. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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The 2nd Space Operations Squadron team defeated the 22nd SOPS team two out of three sets during the 2019 intramural volleyball championship game at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, April 18, 2019. The 2nd SOPS team was down in the second set, but rallied to win the third, earning the championship title. (U.S. Air Force photo Kathryn Calvert)

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A 2nd Space Operations Squadron player spikes the ball for his team during the 2019 intramural volleyball championship at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, April 18, 2019. 2nd SOPS won the championship in a tiebreaker game with a score of 15-7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 2nd Space Operations Squadron defeated the 22nd Space Operations Squadron two out of three sets during the annual intramural volleyball championship at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, April 19.

Korey Kuykendall with the 2nd SOPS team has been playing volleyball at Schriever AFB for a while and knew he would be playing his longtime friend, Steve Bragado, in the championship match.

“I have known Steve for years and he is really, really good,” he said. “I didn't want him to be the one to beat us.”

Kuykendall said during practices they worked on defense and coverage.

“Before the championship match, I reminded our team on where he likes to hit and to watch out for Steve’s tendencies,” he said. “I hoped we were ready to cover the other hitters on their team. When we had to play the ball over, we pushed it deep to the back row to force them to have to pass the ball a long way.”

Kuykendall played for the 50th Operations Support Squadron last year and was excited his position change led him to join the 2nd SOPS strong team.

“There was quite a bit of smack being talked between us so it was fun to play them again,” he said. “They were a much better team from the regular season. They gave us a great match in the second round.”

As team captain, Kuykendall said his team had a lot of players and it was easy to make substitutions.

“We were down in the second match 11-0, and I just kept telling our team to keep battling, make a run and gain momentum and confidence,” he said. “We ended up coming back to lose 25-20, but we took that momentum into the third game and jumped out to an 8-3 lead.”

Bragado said the game was going to be a challenge because his team had seen 2nd SOPS play beforehand.

“I was confident that if all our players showed up we had a very good chance of winning,” he said. “During tournament week, three key players, two due to mission and another due to leave, could not play in the tournament so we knew we had to up our game. We did in the first two matches but fell short in the championship game.”

Bragado said receiving 2nd SOPS serves became a key issue. 

“No good first pass means we are out of system resulting in a tough set, two blockers on one hitter, no spike, or a way off the net spike—all not good options against a solid team,” he said.

Bragado’s favorite part about the tournament was watching his team advance.

“The game was competitive and both sides seemed to enjoy the game and the moment,” he said. “As a long-time volleyball player, it was great to see how new players improved throughout the season and up to the championship game; our players such as (Richard Wright,) (Jason Hill,) (Rudy Reyes) and (Timothy Murphy) improved dramatically and were keys in our late run to the championship game.”

Both Kuykendall and Bragado agree intramural sports increase unit and base camaraderie, reduces work stress and emphasizes teamwork.

“Even though we lost in the championship game, we dedicated our great season to long-time 22nd SOPS intramural volleyball coach John Baldwin who, after winning multiple volleyball championships at Schriever, will retire this year from the civil service,” Bragado said. “We would also like to thank our supervisors who allowed us to take the time to play.”

Kuykendall added intramural sports also build morale among squadrons.

“It gives people something to talk about, especially when you win,” he laughed.

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