HIANG favored to repeat as volleyball champs

Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lorenzo hammers the ball for a kill.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

With half the year gone, it appears that 2017 is the year of the Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) in intramural sports at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

HIANG’s soccer team ended this year as the Joint Base runners up, while the squad’s softball team picked up another first-place trophy.

Now as the volleyball season is about to come to a close, the HIANG volleyball team is all set to continue its dominance of the sport with its 16th straight championship.

This past volleyball season, the HIANG finished with a record of 8-1, but the only blemish on the record was due to a forfeit for not having enough players.

Just one week prior to the playoffs, the HIANG took the court with only six players and no substitutes.

While the specter of losing in the playoffs by forfeit is a concern, if the HIANG gets all of their players to come out, it should be game over.

“This is one of those years when our job has taken over our fun time,” said veteran HIANG hitter Staff Sgt. AlanMichael Warner. “A lot of us have been deployed and are coming in and coming out. We’ve actually lost some experienced players. We’re definitely trying to recruit and we’re just trying to work through it as best as we can.”

Even if HIANG takes the court with the bare minimum of five players, the team will still be hard to beat – especially if the HIANG has team captain Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lorenzo on their side.

Through the years, Lorenzo has earned the reputation as the premier volleyball player at Joint Base.

Although a year older, Lorenzo shows no signs of slowing down and the extra experience of another year might have made him even more dangerous.

In the team’s final game of the regular season, Lorenzo seemed to be slamming kills at-will and appeared at the top of his game.

He said that while he does feel the pressure of having to perform at a high level every game, he comes up ready to play because of his team-mates.

“They do put pressure on me,” he said. “But I put more pressure on myself because I expect a certain level of play. I hold myself to a higher standard to make sure I do the little things. The big things will come and opportunities will come with big things. I just try to minimize my errors and make sure that everybody’s morale is up.”

Warner, who is also among the team’s core group of veteran players, that also includes Lt. Col. Rick Cox and Staff Sgt. David Stiders, said that he also feels the pressure, but you just have to play through it.

“We definitely don’t want to be the ones making mistakes,” Warner said. “We’ve been playing this for so long, we should be doing things right as much as possible.”

While some people might argue that this might be a down year for volleyball at Joint Base, Lorenzo said that you can’t take anything for granted.

If anything, he said that you still have to come out each game and give everything you’ve got.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an easier road,” Lorenzo said. “I make sure that everybody understands that we want to put up a good game, minimize errors and make it hard for the other team to win.”

Warner, who like Lorenzo has been in many championship showdowns, said that while he expects a challenge, he feels pretty good about the team’s chances of taking home another title.

“I’m feeling very confident,” he said. “I’m confident in our new players. We had some absences, but we’ve come together this season to rebuild our strength and core. Everyone looks good, looks healthy and having fun. I think we’ll do well.”

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Category: Sports