COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The most heated rivalry in the 2012 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte took place Friday at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Fans were treated to a double-header of gold medal games between the Army and the Marines in sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. The Army ended the night with double gold and handed the Marines two silver medals.
In sitting volleyball, the Army put a stop to the Marines’ golden streak with a 2-1 win.
“When you come out and play a team that has been the two-time gold winners here, maybe we came out a little timid (the first game against the Marines),” Army Captian and sitting volleyball head coach said. “But I reminded my guys that they were much better players and instilled the confidence in these guys that they’ve got the skill set to win.”
The Marines entered Friday’s gold medal matchup as the only undefeated team in sitting volleyball with a 5-0 record and were looking for a three-peat at the third annual Warrior Games, but the Army spoiled their run.
The Army came out strong, taking the first set 25-13, but the Marines adjusted to take the second, 25-17, to force a third set.
After a timeout, the Marines battled back from a 13-9 deficit to score three straight points and bring the match within one.
With match point on the line, two Marines dove out of bounds to keep the ball in play, but their efforts came up short as the Army took the set, 15-13, and were crowned the 2012 Warrior Games sitting volleyball gold medal team.
“These guys pulled it together; their mental toughness, the coaching that happens not just by me but also by Christie Freeman is unbelievable,” Vetts said. “She brought my guys into the game when other times they’d be out there and lose focus.”
The wheelchair basketball gold medal game followed shortly after in the Clune Arena. The Army, who took silver in 2010, were looking to defends its 2011 gold, and it did just that Friday night.
Leading by about 10 points at the half, the Army prevented the Marines from scoring until 10 minutes into the second and cruised its way to gold with the 54-34 victory.
“Even if this court belongs to us, and we won it last year, and we came to repeat and we got that, we’re going to be here for years to come,” said Army Veteran Paul Roberts, who is in his third Warrior Games. “That’s just one of the things, the gold, it’s not the medal in and of itself. It’s the teamwork and camaraderie. It’s not just what’s on the court, but it’s what coach teaches you; it’s what’s off the court and how you conduct yourself.”
Competition of the 2012 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte concludes on Saturday with swimming events.