SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The U.S. Air Force Warfare Center got off to a slow start, but once it found its rhythm rolled to a 25-19 and 25-14 victory over the 22nd Space Operations Squadron here Wednesday to claim its second consecutive intramural volleyball championship.
In addition to returning players from last year’s championship team, many USAFWC players represented Schriever on the team that recently captured the Rocky Mountain Volleyball Championship as well.
“Playing with people you know is an advantage in any sport,” said Jonathan Szul, USAFWC team captain. “You know your strengths and weaknesses and how you react to each other.”
The match appeared to be even at the beginning of the first set as both teams traded points through the first dozen volleys, with 22 SOPS holding a slight 7-5 lead. USAFWC used a pair of kills and a block to knot the set at 8-8, and took control from that point.
“We knew coming in they would be a tough team to beat,” said Kory Kuykendall, 22 SOPS team member. “It was a challenge to match-up with them.”
USAFWC began to show its dominance following the tie with a 5-1 run to gain a 13-9 lead. 22 SOPS battled to get within two at 16-14, but USAFWC answered with a 5-0 run to force 22 SOPS to use its timeout trailing 21-14.
“They made a slight lineup change,” Kuykendall said. “They gel really well and got their mojo going.”
Szul said his team was able to get a rotation that pit USAFWC’s big hitters against 22 SOPS’s weaker blockers.
“We were just concentrating on playing as a team and putting the ball away,” Szul said. “We looked at our strengths and weaknesses and used it.”
Following the timeout, 22 SOPS tried to claw its way back, but USAFWC held on to take the set 25-19.
The second set was all USAFWC as it rolled to an early 10-4 lead due in part to four unforced errors from 22 SOPS.
“They started to jump serve more and they’re the only team who does the jump serve,” Kuykendall said. “It caused us to start shanking our passes. If you can’t pass, you can’t set. If you can’t set, you can’t hit.”
“Our serves were key,” Szul agreed. “We had really strong serves and it gave us an advantage.”
While 22 SOPS was able to settle somewhat, the missed passes kept 22 SOPS from effectively executing its system, and thus unable to go on a significant scoring run.
The win not only gave USAFWC its second straight volleyball championship, but also its second team championship this year as it also won the basketball title in February.