Air Force, Army set for sitting volleyball bronze-medal game

By Spencer Oshman | Sept. 30, 2014, 11:30 p.m. (ET)

Steven Malits
Sean Malits and the U.S. Air Force face Army for the bronze medal in sitting volleyball.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. ― Day 3 of the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was filled with intensity, as the four remaining teams in sitting volleyball competed for a chance at Thursday's championship match.

Tonight’s first match between the U.S. Army and Navy was unarguably the tightest match-up of the week. Navy started out strong, with a 25-19 win in the first game, but Army fought back to win the second game 25-17. Ultimately Navy proved to be too much, winning the final, deciding game 15-12.

The Army loss meant it would face a very polished and undefeated Marine Corps in the semi-final match up. Despite best efforts and huge improvement from the last time they faced the Marines, the Army would lose in two games, each by a score of 25-19.

After two tough Tuesday night loses, Army coach JD Malone kept his team’s spirits high, encouraging his players to look forward and focus on working as a team in the bronze-medal game. 

“It’s about individuals helping out the entire team,” Malone said. "No one person can win a game on his or her own, and it’s important that we learn to work together."

Winning may be important to a lot of the athletes competing at the 2014 Warrior Games, but there is much more to this week-long event.

 “The Military Reconditioning Program for these wounded warriors is right in mind with a great, team-inspired philosophy," Malone said of the event's impact. 

While Air Force lost its Monday night match against Navy, circumstances for the semi-finals would be much different. The Air Force Sitting Volleyball Team was well rested, not having to play a match beforehand. Additionally, the Navy had just finished a neck-to-neck match, minutes earlier to a solid Army team.

Despite putting forth an excellent effort, the extra Air Force rest wasn’t enough to overcome a communicative 4-1 Navy team. Air Force would lose in two gut-wrenching games by scores of 26-24 and 25-23.

After the loss, third year Warrior Games veteran Keith Sekora (Everett, Washington) of Air Force took a moment to reflect on the week thus far.

“While I’d like to have the gold, this is all about recovery and healing," he said. "Whether we get a gold, silver or bronze, the medal doesn’t matter, it’s about not giving up, giving 110% and representing the Military with honor.”

Air Force (2-3) will go toe-to-toe with Army (1-4) in Wednesday's bronze-medal game at 7:30 p.m. at U.S. Olympic Training Center, Sports Center 1. Air Force beat Army 2-1 (25-22, 17-25, 15-13) on Sunday, the opening day of competition at the fifth Warrior Games.

Navy (3-1) will play Marine Corps (4-0) in the gold medal match Thursday. Admission to all competition is free and open to the public.

For more on 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit teamusa.org/warriorgames/.