By JOHN W. PEELERMarch 11, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (March 12, 2014) -- Coconut Fever made the most of their opportunities from the service line and strong net play to advance in the Commander's Cup Preseason Volleyball Tournament by defeating the Bomb Squad in straight sets to advance to the next round in the winner's bracket.
The teams took to the court Monday at the Smith Fitness Gym in the final game of the winner's bracket with Coconut Fever besting the Bomb Squad, 21-16 and 21-18.
In the first set, Coconut Fever jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, but the Bomb Squad slowly chopped away at Coconut Fever's lead to pull to within one point at 16-15, but Coconut Fever went on a five-point run to close out first set with a 21-16 win.
Coconut Fever never trailed in Set 1 and turned in a similar performance in Set 2 by building an early 7-2 lead with the help of an early three-point run, and again, the Bomb Squad chipped away at the lead to pull to within three points at 12-9.
A five-point run, aided by a strong service game, put Coconut Fever on top 16-10 and within the grasp of their second win.
The Bomb Squad fought back and put up a three -point run to pull to within two points at 19-17, but three serves later Coconut Fever closed out the game with a 21-18 win to advance in the winner's bracket.
Although the combined margin of victory in two games was eight points, Coconot Fever never trailed in either set.
Coconut Fever coach Nathan Vaitautolu attributed the win to his team's strength from the service line and the family-type closeness of his team.
"We had a slow start at the beginning," Vaitautolu said. "It's been a while since we have played volleyball, but after we got warmed up everything seemed to go our way.
"The strongest part of our game was our serves. (Bomb Squad) put up a good fight, but the guys on my team grew up on the (Samoan) islands playing this game, so when it comes to volleyball it's like second nature to us."
Vaitautolu said the entire team is composed of players from the Samoan Islands.
"We are all in the same brigade (3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team), so we have got to meet each other and have gotten to know each other," he said. "One thing about us Samoans is we are very family oriented, so when we meet each other we tend to click and automatically become family."
Vaitautolu said coming up with a team name was easy and when rounding up his team the team name just came to him.
"We all grew up in the islands eating and drinking coconuts, so I said, 'hey, what's a cool name to come up with and it just clicked," he said.
Vaitautolu said he believes his team can go all the way to the championship.
"I think our will to win will get us there," he said. "We intend on giving the rest of the teams in the tournament a little Coconut Fever."