MXG pulls out victory in three sets

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Yarbrough (right) reaches up before slamming down a kill.

Story and photo by Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

At the start of the much-anticipated show- down between the final two undefeated teams in the Blue Division, it appeared as though Team Maintenance Group (MXG) might have an easy night, when its opponent, 37th Intelligence Squadron (37 IS), showed up to play with only five players instead of a typical starting six.

The situation looked even bleaker for the 37 IS after it dropped the first set by a score of 25-16.

However, to prove that no game is over until its really over, Team MXG was surprised by the 37 IS in the second set, 24-25, and had to scramble to take the third set by a score of 15-7 and walk away with the on Aug. 8 in an intramural volleyball showdown at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“They played a heck of a game with only five guys,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Yarbrough, whose kills helped rally Team MXG to the win. “If they had six guys, I’m sure it would have been a much closer game. I hope when we see them in the playoffs, they’ll have six, so we can get a six-on- six match.”

In the first set, the 37 IS showed right away that the team wasn’t just going to lie down and rollover.

From service, the 37 IS got the first five points of the game to take a quick 5-0 advantage.

Yarbrough stopped the steak with two kills in a row, and when teammate Staff Sgt. Obeta O’Brien added another kill, the lead was down to two at 5-3.

Then, with Yarbrough at service, and Team MXG trailing, 6-4, the squad put together a three-point rally to take its first lead of the set at 7-6.

Team MXG went on to outscore the 37 IS by a margin of 18-10 to take the first set.

Starting off with set two, it appeared that Team MXG was gunning to put the 37 IS away by starting off on a 5-0 run. But later, an ace by Staff Sgt. Israel Aguilar brought the 37 IS all the way back to tie the score at 10-10.

Right about then, Team MXG suffered a huge loss, when hitter Tech. Sgt. Mike Steinbercher was forced out of the game with an injury to his hand.

After Aguilar and Yarbrough traded kills to keep the score knotted up at 15- 15, Team MXG went on to take a 19-16 lead on an ace by Yarbrough.

Instead of folding, the 37 IS mounted a comeback and retied the score at 24-24 on a position violation by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Hunt, before Staff Sgt. Ian Hunter hammered down a kill to win set two for the 37 IS.

In the final set, the team that gets hot first often puts the game away, and this time it was Team MXG that did the damage early.

Up by only a point at 2-1, Team MXG got a spark, when Hunt and Staff Sgt. Aaron Oda combined for a block that made it 3-1.

From that point on, Team MXG got the next five points in row to take an 8-1 lead, before holding for the win.

“It was just coming back down to playing as a team,” Yarbrough said. “I think we kind of lost that in the second set.”

With the playoffs just around the corner, Yarbrough said that the win over the 37 IS was huge and just might clear the way for an undefeated run in the regular season. Once the team gets into the playoffs, he stated, anything can happen – especially with the once unbeatable Hawaii Air National Guard possibly showing some cracks after years of domination.

“I hope so,” Yarbrough said. “We have a lot of confidence. Right now we’re 6-0, so hopefully we can keep it going. We already have that harmony connection. We’ll be fine.”

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Category: Sports