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Ana-Maria Ortega from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team spikes the ball during the championship match against a team from Germany's air force, Wednesday, at RAF Lakenheath, England. The women's team took first place and the USAFE men's team finished third in NATO's Allied Air Command volleyball championship tournament.
Ana-Maria Ortega from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team spikes the ball during the championship match against a team from Germany's air force, Wednesday, at RAF Lakenheath, England. The women's team took first place and the USAFE men's team finished third in NATO's Allied Air Command volleyball championship tournament. ()
Ana-Maria Ortega from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team spikes the ball during the championship match against a team from Germany's air force, Wednesday, at RAF Lakenheath, England. The women's team took first place and the USAFE men's team finished third in NATO's Allied Air Command volleyball championship tournament.
Ana-Maria Ortega from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team spikes the ball during the championship match against a team from Germany's air force, Wednesday, at RAF Lakenheath, England. The women's team took first place and the USAFE men's team finished third in NATO's Allied Air Command volleyball championship tournament. ()
Michelle Harrington serves the ball during the championship match against Germany, Wednesday, during NATO's Allied Air Command volleyball tournament, held at RAF Lakenheath, England. The female and male U.S. teams finished the tournament in first and third place, respectively.
Michelle Harrington serves the ball during the championship match against Germany, Wednesday, during NATO's Allied Air Command volleyball tournament, held at RAF Lakenheath, England. The female and male U.S. teams finished the tournament in first and third place, respectively. ()
U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team member Christopher Hucks spikes the ball during the 2012 NATO Allied Air Command volleyball championships, held this week at RAF Lakenheath, England. The men's team finished the tournament in third place and the women's team placed first.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team member Christopher Hucks spikes the ball during the 2012 NATO Allied Air Command volleyball championships, held this week at RAF Lakenheath, England. The men's team finished the tournament in third place and the women's team placed first. ()
Meghan Haas, U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team, sends the ball bolting across the net to awaiting defenders from Germany during the championship match of the 2012 NATO Allied Air Command volleyball tournament, held at RAF Lakenheath, England. The women's and men's teams finished first and third, respectively, at the tournament, in which teams from six nations took part.
Meghan Haas, U.S. Air Forces in Europe volleyball team, sends the ball bolting across the net to awaiting defenders from Germany during the championship match of the 2012 NATO Allied Air Command volleyball tournament, held at RAF Lakenheath, England. The women's and men's teams finished first and third, respectively, at the tournament, in which teams from six nations took part. ()

RAF LAKENHEATH, England — The U.S. Air Forces in Europe women’s volleyball team took first place Wednesday at NATO’s 2012 Allied Air Command volleyball championships at RAF Lakenheath.

The nine-woman team, made up of members from across the U.S. Air Force, defeated counterparts from Germany’s air force — or Luftwaffe — in three sets: 28-26, 25-14, and 25-15.

USAFE women’s head coach Sam Nimpchaimanatham said he knew other teams, such as Germany and the Netherlands, were going to be tough competitors in the tournament, and the key to winning resided in the players’ ability to support each other and stick to the game plan.

“We knew we had a strong team, and we were prepared for a fight all week,” Nimpchaimanatham said. “So, we came in and tried to control what we could to win.”

The biennial tournament also hosted men’s and women’s teams from Poland, United Kingdom and Belgium.

The USAFE men’s team defeated Germany to finish the tournament in third place. The Netherlands won the men’s tournament, defeating Poland.

Lani Kekahuna, a civilian with the 86th Force Support Squadron from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, played as the setter for the U.S. women’s team in the final match. She said the team had only four days to train together before the tournament.

When asked how she thought they played, Kekahuna responded with just one word: “Flawless.”

“We pushed the entire time,” Kekahuna said. “Even when they scored, we tried to score five back.”

hodged@estripes.osd.mil

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