735th AMS sweep past NIOC in straight sets

Staff Sgt. Jordan Woodard goes high above the net for a kill.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The 735th Air Mobility Squadron (735 AMS) faced a tough challenge from Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii, but in the end, the team’s solid play from the front-court and backline proved to be too much. The 735 AMS swept NIOC in straight sets, 25-17 and 25-14, on Aug. 3 in a Gold Division intramural volleyball match at Hickam Fitness Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The 735 AMS picked up their fifth win of the season against two losses, but more importantly, kept the team in the running for the division’s top seed, standing only one game away from the lead.

NIOC, which has had a hard-luck season so far, dropped their fifth game of the year, while winning two games.

Senior Airman Eryk Blicki, whose left-handed serves created all kinds of trouble for NIOC, said that the team’s success is grounded in teamwork.

“A lot of what I’ve noticed is our frontline,” Blicki said. “The frontline does really well on defense. They are always up on the net where they need to be. And the backline gives great support. It’s really just knowing the team and having good position.”

In the early moments of the first set, the 735 AMS seized control of the match and built up a lead as large as seven points.

However, NIOC slowly whittled away at the lead and when Chief Information Systems Technician Albaro Banuenlos slammed a kill, the advantage was cut all the way down to two points at 17-15.

Instead of succumbing to the pressure, the 735 responded with a side-out on a block by Staff Sgt. Jordan Woodard to stop the run and momentum by NIOC.

Woodard then took over service and immediately came up with three aces out of the first four serves, before a kill by team-mate Tech. Sgt. Chris Maya raised the team’s lead to eight at 23-15, forcing NIOC to take a timeout.

“I feel like I was hitting pretty well,” said Woodard, who was the team’s go-to guy when it needed a point. “I like to be fully aware of what’s going on the court. That’s why I play all around. Serving is definitely one of my strong points. Hitting is too, but my passing, I’ve got to work on. I was glad to get some pretty good serves right over the net where they couldn’t really judge where it was going.”

After a side-out, the 735 AMS got the ball back on a kill by Senior Master Sgt. Chad Nixon, before Lt. Justin Rees ended the first set on a kill.

In the second set, the teams went back-and-forth at the start, but a kill by Nixon gave the 735 AMS a three-point lead at 6-3.

NIOC battled back to pull to within two points at 12-10, but Woodard came up with another clutch kill that set the 735 AMS on another rally.

This time, with Blicki at service, the 735 AMS went on a six-point run to gain full control of the second set at 19-10.

“I tried to choose the person I went to,” said Blicki about his success from the backline. “They had tall people in the back and they were the best people to go after because they have a hard time to get down. I kept them on their toes by switching the targets.”

Later, Woodard picked up two more aces from service, before a couple of hitting errors by NIOC ended that set and match.

“I like it that we practice a lot because team cohesion is the best,” Blicki said. “You know somebody’s got your back.”

Woodard agreed with Blicki and added that as long as the team stays prepared, the 735 AMS should continue their success this season.

A lot of practice is one way to keep sharp, according to Woodard.

“In working on our rotation, we find people’s strong points. We identify that at the beginning of the season and work on that throughout the season,” Woodard said.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: Sports