Experience key for Ramstein in USAFE tournament finals
June 30, 2008
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Gemany – According to Ramstein’s second-most experienced player, his Rams’ second straight USAFE men’s volleyball championship all came down to experience.
"We started getting some blocks," Matt Potts, 39, said about Sunday’s decisive 15-7 fifth-game victory over the Spangdahlem Sabers that led to an if-necessary 24-26, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 15-7 title-winning set. "That comes with experience. You start reading the hitter better."
Ramstein’s experience didn’t kick in a moment too soon for Potts and his Ramstein teammate, Wilford "Lefty" Byrd, age 44. The two were playing their 10th game of the day in the 15-7 clincher.
Spangdahlem, which eliminated the 501st Air Base Wing team 25-20, 25-20 in Sunday morning’s losers-bracket final, forced the if-necessary match by turning back the Rams 25-19, 21-25, 28-30, 25-18, 15-10 in the team’s first showdown on Sunday.
"We expected them to be here today," Potts said about playing the home team for the title of this three-day event, "but I wanted to end it in three games in the first match."
Spangdahlem’s attitude, however, made that impossible, Byrd explained.
"They’re a very scrappy team," he said. "They went all-out for every ball."
The Sabers were playing Ramstein for the fourth time in three days in the finale. They lost twice to the Rams in the round-robin, and once in the winners bracket, but stunned the Rams 25-19 in the first of the teams’ 10 games on Sunday and staying with Ramstein in the next eight.
Ramstein, however, came out determined in Game 10, Potts said.
"We had to put some old-school stuff on them." Potts said about the way Ramstein jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the final game.
Potts accounted for three of the points with two blocks and a kill in the decisive opening break.
"In a 15-point game," he said, "if you get up by six or seven points, it’s hard to for the other team to come back. From there, it’s just a side-out game the rest of the way."
The final run was a continuation of the previous game for Spangdahlem, which appeared to be a victim of fatigue in its 11th game of the day. Ramstein rode a string of Spangdahlem errors from an 8-8 tie to a 25-20 win to even the second match at two sets each.
The Rams’ triumph turned the 2008 USAFE event into a Ramstein sweep. The Lady Rams dumped Aviano 25-20, 25-20, 25-24 in Saturday’s women’s title game.
All-tournament teamsWomen—Lani Kekahuna, Haley Homan, Jolene Lu (Ramstein); Manu Pollard, Debbie Washington (Aviano); Karen Kakaley, Susan Oltmer, Claudie Tie (Spangdahlem).
Men—Wilford "Lefty" Byrd, Tracy "Fish" Lintz (Ramtein); Jason Clugston, Jason Greene, Louis Kane, Sam Kauth (Spangdahlem); Mike Green, Tom McCauley (501st Air Base Wing).