PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, California -- Two Cinderellas from the 229th Military Intelligence Battalion entered the volleyball championship here Jan. 30.
Fourth-seeded Company D took on the loser's bracket entry, second-seeded Company A, that was a player short that night. The Black Sheep methodically won in the required two matches to become champs, 25-12, 19-25, 15-6 and 24-13, 10-25, 15-13.
"Delta was definitely the underdog team, we played hard from the bottom of, and played undefeated all the way to, the top of the bracket," said Kyla Fadness, Co. D coach. "They worked so hard all season and when it came down to it, it was so mental."
Co. D's six on five player edge appeared to be offset by Co. A's reliance on Javier Jeronimo and Ross Saucedo to deliver timely spikes and good net play.
"I don't know what happened (with the missing player) but we had to make up for it," said Spec. Daniella Robichaud, Co. A coach. "It was really stressful but we were the better team. We have a lot of motivation out here."
The third game of the first match likely demonstrated Co. D's nerves. Needing a win for the championship, they were demolished.
"Alpha played an outstanding game and if we were going to win we needed to be 100 percent on top of it and they weren't all the way there," Fadness said.
But there were three more games, starting with Alpha dusting Delta 25-13.
"I told them before the game even started, you can beat these guys, it's all about whether or not you think you can," Fadness said. "And we did, we crushed them 25-10 (in the next game)."
That set up the winner take-all game, which was knotted 13-13 with Robichaud serving for Co. A.
"That final game, they just got ahead of themselves and made some mistakes at the end when we couldn't afford to make any," Fadness said.
After a long volley, Co. D's Kaleb Barnes delivered a spike that was just long. With Alpha up 14-13, Delta couldn't return a Jeronimo hit and five weary, stunned players went a bit delirious. Cinderella bested Cinderella.
"It was five on six players so we were the underdog on this, coming out of the loser's bracket. I couldn't be more proud of the Soldiers here," said Capt. Shannon Taylor, commander of Co. A.
She is atop a Presidio of Monterey jockocracy after Alpha won the flag football title the week prior and fielded two volleyball teams among the six that competed during the season. Robichaud's roommate coached the other team.
"We work really well together and play for fun all of the time," she said of her champions. "We're really comfortable together on the court and I'm really connected to each and every one of them. They're like family, my volleyball family."