Team MXG rolls into playoff with two-set sweep

Master Sgt. Marcus W. Della Sala goes up and reaches out to try for a block.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Team MXG, made up of members from the 154th Maintenance Group, wrapped up the regular season with a dominating two-set sweep of the Knuckle Busters, 15th Maintenance Group, 25-12 and 25-11, on Aug. 17 in a matchup of Gold Division rivals at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.

The win nailed down a spot in the playoffs for Team MXG, who finished with a solid record of 7-3 and earned the division’s No. 3 seed.

For the Knuckle Busters, the game was the team’s final of the season. They finished with 1-9 record.

Team MXG enters the playoffs with high hopes of at least copying their postseason run in 2016, when they squared off against the Hawaii Air National Guard for the Joint Base title.

Although Team MXG fell to HIANG in the championship finale, the team put up a good fight and came to within a point of taking set two.

“Hopefully we’ll at least make second place,” said Team MXG captain Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Saqui. “You never know what will happen in the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll see them (HIANG) again.”

In the team’s battle against the Knuckle Busters, Team MXG showed an amazing array of firepower that was provided by their frontline hitters.

Not only is Saqui, who used to play for the HIANG, a top hitter, he is joined by teammates Staff Sgt. Opeta O’Brien, Tech. Sgt. Chris Takesue, Staff Sgt. Aaron Oda, Capt. Ryan Snow and Master Sgt. Marcus W. Della Sala to form a formidable attack.

While the first set against the Knuckle Busters was give-and-take in the beginning, once Senior Airman Tyra Tandal took over service, Team MXG started to roll.

Tandal started off with an ace to tie the score at 3-3 and then went on to help put Team MXG on a four-point run that ended with a thunderous kill by Saqui for a 7-3 advantage.

Later, back-to-back kills by Snow and Takesue gave Team MXG their first double-digit lead at 22-12, before the team went on a three-point run to close out the first set.

Saqui said that while the team’s hitters were putting the ball away with effectiveness, it was the team’s defense that really shined.

“For us that’s (hitting) really not as important as our defense,” he said. “There are other powerful hitters like the HIANG, so if we don’t have our blockers up there, we’re not going to get our chance to hit. We need our defense to really step up.”

It was more of the same in the second set, as Team MXG fought off a 6-6 tie before going on an eight-point run to take a 14-6 lead.

During the run, a total of four players put away kills with Oda coming away with two.

Team MXG took a double-digit lead at 18-8 on back-to-back kills by Della Sala.

Then, up by a score of 21-11, Team MXG closed out the set and match with four straight points, with Della Sala spiking a kill for the final point.

As Team MXG looks forward to the playoffs, Saqui said that the plan is to get on the court and make adjustments as necessary.

With the passing game improving, Saqui feels that Team MXG might have a better chance of going all the way this season.

In order to make that a reality, Saqui said that the team will have to stay focused.

“Our team is kind of young. A lot of our players haven’t played before,” he said. “We’ve got to stay focused. A lot of our players get anxious, so we’ve just got to keep our heads on and stay focused.”

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

Category: Sports