Air Force Men and Women soar past competition to win 2019 Volleyball Gold

By Mr. Steven Dinote, U.S. Armed Forces Sports Secretariat U.S. Armed Forces Sports

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Air Force Men and Women dominate the competition to bring home the gold during the 2019 Armed Forces Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center here at Fort Bragg, N.C. March 6-8.  

MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Earning their fourth straight title, Air Force went undefeated throughout the competition, winning all six matches throughout the tournament.  

“Both teams were great, but Navy was our biggest competition,” said Air Force Head Coach Gilbert Sierra. “Navy had a lot returning players and kept us guessing with their explosive offense. Their coach is tenacious and refuses to give up.”

Taking the helm in 2015, Sierra changed the culture of the Air Force program after the team placed third the two years prior. Air Force has won gold every year since.  

“The speed of the game has changed and has become more tactical. We had to adapt our way of training, ensuring that the athletes that we bring in have the right mindset for higher level competition.” 

Navy captured the men’s silver with a 3-3 record. 

“This tournament and competition is always incredible. The comradery is unmeasurable as these guys come out to compete in a sport that they love. The opportunities that Armed Forces Sports provides especially, with the operational tempo demands of the military, allows these Service members to feel like world class athletes.” 

WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Eyeing a three-peat, Air Force Women went 5-1 on their quest to gold during the 2019 championship.

“It’s such an honor to be here at this tournament” said Air Force Women’s Coach Jay Van Vark. “The athletic talent at this championship seems to rise each year, as the energy and excitement at every match is infectious.”

Air Force faced a tough and determined Navy squad, which was the only team to defeat them during a match throughout the tournament. 

“Navy’s constant pursuit of the ball is difficult to handle…they are relentless,” said Van Vark. 

Navy finished the tournament with a 4-2 record, winning silver as Army finished third.  

The 2019 Armed Forces Women’s Championship also serves as the selection tournament for the U.S. Armed Forces Volleyball team as they prepare to compete in the 7th Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) Military World Games held in Wuhan, China from October 18-28.  

The U.S. women are looking to return to the podium after their 2017 silver medal performce during the Military World Championship.  

With winning the Armed Forces Championship, Van Vark is named as the Armed Forces Head Volleyball Coach.  

“We have a solid group that should compete well at the world level,” said Van Vark. 

In preparation for the Military World Games, Van Vark says, “As all of the players are continual life students, we will establish our expectations on the system of play, style of communication on the court, along with lots of video allowing for a complete understanding before we start the physical training.”  

“I could not be any more excited to compete at the international level, representing our country and military.”  

The 2019 Armed Forces Championship was hosted by Fort Bragg Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation-Sports and Fitness. This three-day long, triple round robin features the best volleyball players from around the Armed Forces.  

Visit www.armedforcessports.com for more information. 

All-Tournament Team Honors:

Men:
1st Lt Kekaiku'imauloa Nu'uhiwa, Los Angeles AFB, CA - USAF
1st Lt Seth Miller, Los Angeles AFB, CA - USAF
SrA Anthony Clowers, Dyess AFB, TX - USAF
SrA Trey White, Yokota AFB, JP - USAF
SPC Luis Osorio, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz, GE - Army
PO1 Sheldon Lucius, Bremerton, WA - Navy

Women:
1st Lt Felicia Clement, McChord AFB, WA - USAF
1st Lt Hillary Keltner, Peterson AFB, CO - USAF
2d Lt Raquel Rosas, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA - USAF
Capt Abby Hall, Eglin AFB, FL - USAF
PO3 Denise Atualevao, Yokosuka, Japan - Navy
LTJG Kelsey DePorto, Sector Hampton Roads, VA - Navy (Coast Guard)


U.S. Armed Forces Team Members - 7th CISM Military World Games
1st Lt Felicia Clement, McChord AFB, WA - USAF
1st Lt Hillary Keltner, Peterson AFB, CO - USAF
2d Lt Raquel Rosas, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA - USAF
Capt Abby Hall, Eglin AFB, FL - USAF
PO3 Denise Atualevao, Yokosuka, Japan - Navy
LTJG Kelsey DePorto, Sector Hampton Roads, VA - Navy (Coast Guard)
LTJG Susan West, CG Naval Station Mayport, FL - Navy (Coast Guard)
2d Lt Savannah Banyai, Moody AFB, GA - USAF
2d Lt Taelor Eyre, Altus AFB, OK - USAF
A1C Maria Feldpaush, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC - USAF
CPT Justine Stremick, Fort Belvior, VA - Army
1LT Gabrielle Miller, Texas National Guard - Army
Head Coach: Jay Van Vark - USAF

Complete results:

Wed, 6 March
Match 1 Men: USAF 3 - Army 0 (25-11, 25-19, 25-14)  -  Photos
Match 2 Women: USAF 3 - Army 0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-20)  -  Photos
Match 3 Men: Navy 3 - Army 1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 25-16)  -  Photos
Match 4 Women: Navy 3 - Army 0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-15)  -  Photos
Match 5 Men: USAF 3 - Navy 0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-20)  -  Photos 
Match 6 Women: USAF 3 - Navy 0 (25-17, 25-16, 26-24) -  Photos

Thu, 7 March
Match 7 Men: Navy 3 - Army 1 (25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 25-23)  -  Photos
Match 8 Women: Navy 2 - Army 0 (25-11, 25-19, 25-21)  -  Photos
Match 9 Men: USAF 3 - Navy 1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-18)  -  Photos
Match 10 Women: USAF 3 - Navy 2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 15-11) - Photos
Match 11 Men: USAF 3 - Army 0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-21)  -  Photos
Match 12 Women: USAF 3 - Army 0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-9)  -  Photos

Fri, 8 March
Match 13 Men: USAF 3 - Navy 2 (25-27, 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 15-9)  -  Photos
Match 14 Women: Navy 3 - USAF 1 (19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20)  -  Photos
Match 15 Men: USAF 3 - Army 2 (25-23, 26-28, 27-29, 25-10, 15-7)  -  Photos
Match 16 Women: USAF 3 - Army 0 (25-14, 25-14,25-22)  -  Photos
Match 17 Men: Navy 3 - Army 0 (25-17, 25-17, 27-25)  -  Photos
Match 18 Women: Navy 2 - Army 0 (25-9, 25-20, 25-18)  -  Photos

Men
1st - USAF 6-0
2nd - Navy 3-3
3rd - Army 0-6

Women
1st - USAF 5-1
2nd - Navy 4-2
3rd - Army 0-6