Incredible streak continues on for HIANG

Members of the Hawaii Air National Guard team, which took the title of 2018 JBPHH intramural volleyball champion, get together for a group shot.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

For 16 seasons, the Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) dominated the sport of volleyball like no other command has ever done at the old Hickam Air Force Base and then after the merger into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Outside of one season, where no team was declared as champion due to an eligibility ruling, the HIANG had won 15 straight intramural volleyball titles and entered this season as the clear favorites to repeat for the 16th time.

After losing twice in the regular season, the rumors of the HIANG’s downfall began to circulate around the joint base, but the murmurs were put to rest with an emphatic and dominating performance in the 2018 playoffs.

Playing against Team MXG in the championship match, the HIANG easily added to its legacy and legend, as the teamswept its opponents in straight sets, 25-12 and 25-9, to win the 2018 JBPHH intramural volleyball title, which was held at JBPHH Fitness Center Sept. 20.

HIANG team captain Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lorenzo tries for a kill over the defense of Tech. Sgt. Christopher Yarbrough.

Iron man Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lorenzo was once again the catalyst in the team’s run for the trophy, as he has done in every title won by the HIANG.

As team captain, Lorenzo said the formula he uses for success is pretty simple, and he has stuck to the same game plan for years.

“I keep the task simple,” he explained. “The guys who can pass, I make them pass, the guys who can block, I make them block. I just try to foster the strengths of everyone and put them in a position where they can use their strength.”

Right from the very first point, Lorenzo was at his best and showed no signs of slowing despite playing the sport for over two decades.

Lorenzo slammed down the first kill of the game and then proceeded to have a monster of a night by coming up with four more kills and two blocks in the first set, before adding six more kills in the second set.

First-year teammate Special Agent Jacob Pearce was equally devastating to Team MXG. Along with Lorenzo, Pearce was one half of the Slam Brothers, and swung away to the tune of 10 kills, one block and three aces.

“We got lucky and blessed,” said Lorenzo about the addition of Pearce. “He went through the player’s pool. I asked for a player and that’s what I got.”

With both players blasting away, the HIANG took control of the championship match and never looked back.

The HIANG opened the first set on a 4-0 run and then kicked off the second set by scoring five consecutive points.

“I’ve seen it before. If you give them a chance, they get a rhythm and then they’re going to take over,” said Lorenzo about the importance of jumping out to a lead in each set. “I didn’t want to give them an inch.”

While Lorenzo admits that it gets harder each year to maintain a high level of play, the one thing that never changes is a fire that burns him to the core to come back and do it all over again.

For him, he said that the minute the HIANG locks up another championship, he’s already thinking about how to add one more title to the team’s incredible legacy.

“I start immediately,” said Lorenzo, who wants to extend the championship streak so high, that it would never be duplicated or overtaken. “I start trying to figure out who is going to be on the team the next year because every year it changes. Every season is important. Every season I feel like I’m actually representing the HIANG. We play together, we play tough and the fire is still there.”

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Category: Sports