Team Young Range players can now call themselves two-time champions. After winning the Commander’s Cup Preseason Volleyball Championship and remaining undefeated during the season, the squad won the Commander’s Cup Postseason Volleyball Championship May 13, defeating the Jungle Cats in a best two-of-three match at Smith Fitness Center.
The Jungle Cats of 11th Engineer Battalion got off to a quick start in the first set, leading 13-5. Team Young Range of 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, closed the gap to 21-20, but after a failed spike out of bounds, the Jungle Cats took the serve to seal the win 25-20.
After Team Young Range was down, coach Fatu Iaulualo gave the team words of encouragement.
“I told the team, ‘don’t think about winning, just play the game,’” he said.
Team Young Range played better at the net on defense and capitalized on Jungle Cats’ errors in the second set, to lead 19-8. Team Young Range won the game 25-11, forcing a third set.
Following the loss of the second set, Iaulualo said he told the team “to go for it and not give the other team the chance to win.”
In the early going of the deciding set, the score was tied until the Jungle Cats’ Charlie Knauff spiked to break the stalemate, but the lead was short-lived, as Team Young Range jumped on top 12-8. The Jungle Cats came to within one point of tying the game at 14-13, but after a missed serve by the Jungle Cats, Team Young Range scored the deciding point to win the championship, 15-13.
“It wasn’t easy to beat them … they are a tough team,” Iaulualo said. “We made some mistakes. We had a few missed serves and dropped the ball a few times, but we were able to come back and win.”
Team Young Range’s Rob Filimaua said having to play the Jungle Cats three sets put the team in uncharted waters.
“All season long, we played two sets and we were done,” he said. “This is the only team that took us to three sets. We were determined to win. We knew if we lost, we would have to play them again, (because it was double elimination) so we wanted to go ahead and get it done right the first time. If we played them in another game, I don’t know what the outcome would have been. I am glad we finished it when we did.”