COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Despite pep from the Army band before the start of the gold medal sitting volleyball game at the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, the Marine Corps defeated Army 2-0 (25-21, 25-21) to take home the title at the United States Air Force Academy.
Army went into the game with the gold medal from last year, but the Marines, a team that had handled Army 2-0 (25-19, 25-14 ) earlier in the tournament, were confident they could wear the gold medal this year.
"We are coming in hot," Army veteran Sean Hook (Altoona, Pa.) said before the game.
“We’re ready to win again.”
The pressure was on for both teams as the Chairman's Cup on the line. Through the archery competition on Day 4 of the Warrior Games, Marines have 49 medals, including 18 gold medals, while Army has 44 medal, including 16 gold medals, putting the two branches neck and neck.
Marines scored the first point of the first set. With a fist pump, and an eruption of cheers from the stands, game was off and the Marines never looked back.
Long volleys floated between the rival teams for a consistently close score, but Marines prevailed to take the first set with 25-21.
Every time out called for an excited moment of cheering, chanting and cow belling from the stands.
"This is my first games and I could hardly hear the guy next to me," said Marine Cpl. Jorge Salazar (San Diego, Calif.). "It was amazing having all their support."
The second set saw strong blocks, high sets and strategic shuffling to the ball for another round of close scores.
As the teams began to add points back to the scoreboard, Marines ended up securing a tight 25-21 win over Army with assistance from an Army error. The cheers from red-shirted fans burst from the stands in Clune Arena as a new champion was announced.
"We got 'em!" Salazar breathed. "We wanted it. We are the Marines we always want it, and we were determined to get it.”
It had been a long awaited win for Marines against Army since last year's Warrior Games, when Marines fell to Army in the gold medal game.
Brent Petersen, fourth-year Marine sitting volleyball coach, explained the excitement and accomplishment of the team’s success, "We went undefeated last year until the final match, but this year I couldn't be more proud of these guys playing with their hearts."
"They knew it was going down this year and they did it 'til the very end," he said. They trusted their teammates and came together as a unified team, playing our game."
Army came out with a silver medal.
While the two teams were experiencing different emotions, Army and Marine athletes exchanged high-fives, and handshakes, a great display of respect among the two branches to end the sitting volleyball games.
The British Armed Forces took home the bronze medal with a three set win against Navy (25-18, 23-25, 17-15). With a timeout at a 16-15 third set score, athletes, coaches and spectators, were on the edge of their seats. The UK topped it off for the win.
“It was such an exciting game. The boys have worked really hard and they deserved the win," said Maurillia Simpson (London, England) of the British Armed Forces.
With medals awarded in sitting volleyball, Marines have 49 medals. Army has 44 and the United Kingdom has 12.
For more information the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit teamusa.org/warriorgames/.