324 IS strengthens grip on final playoff seed

Team captain Tech. Sgt. Adam Delph sets up a shot for the 324 IS.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz
Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Needing a win to stay in the hunt for the Blue Division’s sixth and final seed, the 324th Intelligence Squadron (324 IS) came through in the clutch with a straight set, 25-17 and 25-24, win over the 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron (647 LRS) Aug. 29 at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.

Next week will wrap up the regular season with the playoffs scheduled for Sept. 11-13. The top six teams from the Blue and Gold Divisions will qualify for the postseason.

The win by the 324 IS raised its record to 3-2, while the 647 LRS, which entered the game as the No. 4 seed in the Blue Division, lost its fourth game against five victories.

Although the 647LRS started and finished the matchup with only five players, one short of the regulation six players, the squad gave the 324 IS all it could handle – due to the strong frontcourt play of LRS outside hitter Airman 1st Class Matthew Harney.

In both sets, the 647 LRS got out to fast starts only to lose momentum as the match progressed.

“In the first set, we just got out to a slow start,” said 324 IS team captain Tech. Sgt. Adam Delph, as the 324 IS fell behind early at 6-1. “And in the second set, again, little mistakes crept up on us until we finally got our groove and in the middle of the set, we kind of lost it again. We took a timeout to regroup and ended up winning the game.”

After its slow start in the first set, the 324 IS slowly gained momentum and finally tied the set at 8-8 on an ace from service from Master Sgt. Michael Wiest.

Wiest, who took over service with the team behind at 8-4, led the 324 IS on a nine-point rally that put it out in front at 13-8.

The 324 IS increased its lead to seven points at 20-13, before moving on to the 25-17 and 1-0 win.

“We just tried to minimize the mistakes,” stated Delph about how the team turned the set around. “We made good passes to set up points. We set up to score points and not just hit the ball over.”

Harney, whose tall presence made things a bit tough at the net for the 324 IS, started to swing away and his first kill in the second set kept the 624 LRS in the lead at 6-4.

Delph said that in order to neutralize Harney’s powerful slams, the 324 IS had to devise a plan to prevent him from taking over.

“His (Harney’s) height was definitely nervous to us before we started the game,” Delph admitted. “So normally when we see people like that, we keep the ball away from them. By doing that, it takes out their scoring advantage and sets them up to not be able to utilize him to his full potential.

Back and forth it went, with the game being tied nine times throughout the second set.

Late in the set, another kill by Harney seemed to give the 647 LRS full control with a 22-18 lead.

However, a kill by Wiest tied it all up at 24-24, before Tech. Sgt. Edmond Gray put down an ace to end the set and match.

Next week, the 324 IS can lock down its spot in the playoffs by winning the team’s final two games of the regular season.

If they can accomplish that, Delph said that he likes his team’s chances if its top six players show up to play.

“Obviously, we’re going to shoot for our best six,” he acknowledged. “Hopefully everyone will show up and we’ll have a good showing in the postseason.”

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Category: News