Combat Medics move up standings in second consecutive win

Jared Taniguchi tries for a spike at the net.

Jared Taniguchi tries for a spike at the net.

Story and photos by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The 15th Medical Group (15MDG) Combat Medics meshed the combined steady service of team captain Airman 1st Class Sarah Sanborn with the hard-hitting kills of Jared Taniguchi, a Department of Defense civilian, to win their second straight game with a two-set, 25-10, 25-23, win over Defense POW/ MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) on Aug. 13 in a Red Division intramural volleyball matchup at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.

The Combat Medics have now won four straight sets to win two games in a row and raise their record to 2-4 while DPAA has dropped under .500 for the first time this season with a 2-3 record.

Much of the Combat Medics recent success has been attributed to head coach Airman 1st Class Christopher McCloud, who has been away since the first game, while the team dropped four straight to open the season.

McCloud said that the biggest adjustment to the team has been in their chatter among one another.

“This year, there is a lot of communication,” McCloud said. “We have to communicate because if we don’t, we get very stagnant. So it’s all about communication this year.”

In the first set, the game was deadlocked at 4-4 before Sanborn got control of the ball from behind the back line.

Behind the steady service of Sanborn, the Combat Medics took a four-point advantage at 8-4.

This year, we put a very strong emphasis on serving,” McCloud stated. “Last year, we lost so much points because we could not get the ball over the net. We want to get the ball consistently over the net because we know that it’s a vital part of the game.”

Gary Stark gets a hand on the ball to deliver a kill.

Gary Stark gets a hand on the ball to deliver a kill.

With Sanborn helping to give her team a slight edge, Taniguchi began to heat up and got his first kill to make it 10-6.

Another kill by Taniguchi upped the team’s lead to six at 12-6 and then, Taniguchi, on a beautiful set by Sanborn, slammed down the ball for a kill to give Combat Medics a nine-point advantage at 16-7.

From that point on, the first set belonged to the Combat Medics as the team outscored DPAA 9-3 the rest of the way to win set one.

With the threat of elimination on their backs, DPAA dug in their heels and fought back hard in the second set to try to stay alive.

Against most teams, the solid effort by DPAA probably would have been enough to force a third set, but it was not to be due to the clutch performance of Taniguchi.

A kill by Taniguchi broke the third tie of the second set to put Combat Medics up by one at 9-8.

The set continued on its back and forth path with six more ties until Taniguchi blasted another kill to give Combat Medics an 18-17 lead.

Each time DPAA made a run, Taniguchi was there to come up with a clutch point to keep Combat Medics in control.

Taniguchi added two more kills and a block for a point to help his team secure set two at 25-23.

“Jared is a wonderful player,” McCloud said. “He came out of nowhere. We’re all we got. No matter who you see on the floor, they’re going to give it 110 percent.”

DPAA team captain Gary Starks, a retired veteran and current DoD civilian, said that getting off to a slow start was due to the fact that the team had many new players.

Once they got their feet wet, Starks said that the team was able to hold its own against a very tough squad.

“The problem we have is that we have so many people deploying all the time,” Starks said. “Nobody got down on each other. If we get some of our people back and get more time on the court, I think we’ll improve.”

While the Combat Medics has improved by leaps and bounds already, things won’t get easy as the team is scheduled to meet some of the top teams in the division over the next few weeks.

“As long as we communicate, I feel like there is no team out there that can beat us,” he said. “We have a great all-around set. We’re finally on the right track.”

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Category: Sports