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Schriever captures volleyball championship

Schriever Air Force Base volleyball team members celebrate following their 22-25, 25-7 and 17-15 victory over the U.S. Air Force Academy in the Rocky Mountain Volleyball Tournament championship game at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, Saturday, April 23, 2016. With the win, Schriever picked up its second championship in three years and avenged a loss to the Academy in last year’s title game. (Courtesy photo)

Schriever Air Force Base volleyball team members celebrate following their 22-25, 25-7 and 17-15 victory over the U.S. Air Force Academy in the Rocky Mountain Volleyball Tournament championship game at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, Saturday, April 23, 2016. With the win, Schriever picked up its second championship in three years and avenged a loss to the Academy in last year’s title game. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Schriever Air Force Base volleyball team avenged a second-place finish in 2015 with a 22-25, 25-7 and 17-15 victory over the U.S. Air Force Academy to win the 2016 Rocky Mountain Volleyball Tournament Saturday at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Following the first set loss, Team Captain Jonathan Szul made some lineup adjustments which turned the tide in Schriever's favor.

"Like any sport, you have to change it if it's not working," Szul said. "We did a simple change for our outside hitters and that gave us the edge."

The move allowed Schriever to gain an advantage in the front court and improve its blocking. Unofficially, the team counted between 10 and 15 blocks for the second set.

"I've played almost 20 years now at a competitive level, and I don't know if I have ever seen a blocking clinic like that," said Schriever team member Shane Kramer. "We had a double block on just about everything, and a triple block or two on their out-of-system passes. Just about all of the hitters on the other team were just pushing the ball over by the end of the set to avoid our block."

"We knew our strengths and weaknesses and used that to our advantage," Szul added.

The Academy countered with an adjustment of its own for the third set that nearly kept the title in its possession.

"They carried a 1-2 point lead throughout most of the set and we caught up with them with a strong push (to tie) it at 13-13," Kramer said. "After a few high drama plays, we were able to pull it off."

"The third set was a nail-biter and came down to the very last point," Szul said.

The win gave Schriever its second title in three years, with many of its players manning the team for all three championship game appearances.

"Our teamwork was great," said Szul. "We played together before and we knew how to play with each other."

The Academy team defeated Schriever, 23-25, 25-19 and 15-9, in the finals of last year's tournament.

"Last year, the Academy team won against us in similar fashion where we won the first set, lost the second in a close contest and were blown out in the third," Kramer said. "It felt great to avenge that."

In addition to Schriever and the Academy, the tournament also featured teams from Peterson and F.E. Warren Air Force Bases and Fort Carson. 

The tournament began with a round robin to determine seeding for the championship bracket. Schriever ended up with the top seed following the round robin with the Academy second, F.E. Warren third and Peterson fourth. Fort Carson did not advance.
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