By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)May 12, 2016
With one game already won and holding a razor-thin 19-18 lead in the second, Tucker Jones served three consecutive aces as the 554th Engineer Battalion scored six unanswered points to win the championship match of the 2016 Commander's Cup Volleyball Tournament May 4 at Davidson Fitness Center.
"There was a lot of pressure to just bring it home," Jones said. "I just found it."
The 554th Engineers beat the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, 25-24, 25-18, to not only bring home the championship plaque, but also secure a victory over the only team to defeat them during the regular season.
"I thought they did outstanding," said Allie Carrillo, 554th Engr. Bn. coach. "I was a little worried, because MSCoE is a tough team. I think this was probably the toughest game we've played so far. MSCoE has really stepped it up from the beginning of the season until now. So, it was a challenge -- it was everything a championship game should be."
The 554th Engineers fell behind early in the first game but quickly made up the deficit. The two teams then essentially matched each other point for the point the remainder of the contest, with the winning shot coming on a spike by Finesi Taimasa.
Taimasa had four points in the first game with three spikes and a block. Amani Maulolo also had four points for the 554th, while Jones and Silibelio Iosefo each had a spike.
Stephen Piechura led MSCoE with eight spikes and a block, followed by Treavor Bellandi with two spikes and a block, Alex Rim's two spikes and a spike by Christopher Romero.
Cheered on by Soldiers within their battalion who lined the walls at Davidson Fitness Center, the 554th Engineers seemed firmly in control at the beginning of the second game, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on spikes by Jones and Taimasa.
Hits by Piechura, Bellandi and Romeo evened the score at 10-10, and MSCoE remained either within a point or a point ahead of the engineers until Jones stepped onto the service line.
Despite the win, however, Jones indicated it was anything but easy.
"This was definitely the most competitive (match) we've played," he said. "Everyone went all-in. We had the best players show up for this match, so it was very competitive."
Taimasa led the 554th with eight spikes and two blocks in the championship match. He was followed by Maulolo with five spikes and two blocks, Jones' three aces and two spikes, and two spikes by Iosefo. Carillo had one spike, and Mike Caddigan had one ace, both in the second game.
Piechura led MSCoE with 12 spikes and a block. Bellandi finished with three spikes and block; Romero had three spikes and Rim had two spikes.
Earlier in the evening, Combat Training Company won the tournament's third-place game, defeating the 169th Engineer Company, 25-11, 25-21.
"We had a rough go of it last night against MSCoE, so we knew we had to come back strong today," said Jason Byrne, CTC team captain. "Our opponent was pretty good, but I think we played together as a team, and we got the job done tonight. Third place isn't as good as second or first, but it feels good to go out on a win."