MCAGCC TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The MAGTF TC, Twentynine Palms, volleyball team defeated Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, to claim the West Coast Regional Volleyball Championship April 12 at the West Gym.
The Combat Center's squad needed all three games to secure the best-of-three match after a slow start cost them the first game, 16-25.
The teams then traded sides of the court, and the momentum changed hands. The Combat Center team took control in the second game, handing MCB a 25-16 loss of their own, and then dominated the third game to secure the match.
"This team was solid all around," said Jimmy Daily, Combat Center coach. "We didn't rely on one or two people like most teams. Everyone on our side could hit and get the job done."
The Combat Center team was more prepared than ever for this tournament, according to Daily. However, the road to the championship was paved with challenges in the form of well-prepared and competitive teams.
"This tournament was wide open," said Skip Best, director, MAGTF TC Marine Corps Community Services Sports. "This was an excellent demonstration of the level of competition in our region. We had good teams playing at a high level."
The other three teams in the tournament were from Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar; 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton; and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, who finished in the third position after losing to MCB in the semi-final match.
According to Best, the tournament usually includes eight teams. Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow; MCAS, Yuma; and 3rd Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, were not able to participate this year.
The Regional Championship tournament began with a round-robin seeding tournament the day before the opening ceremony. Equality in the level of competition was evident from the beginning, according to Best. Each team played each other once, and none came out unbeaten. Three of the five teams finished with 2-2 records.
Following the opening ceremony April 10, Twentynine Palms and Miramar kicked off the double-elimination tournament. Twentynine Palms defeated Miramar and MCRD, San Diego leading to a championship preview against MCB the next evening. MCB added 1stMARDIV to the group of teams hanging on in the losers' bracket on their way to the championship preview.
Twentynine Palms triumphed in the two team's first meeting, sending MCB to face a strong MCRD team to decide who would challenge the Combat Center team for the title. MCB used all three games to capture the victory, securing their spot in the championship match. However, MCB was now in the disadvantageous position of having to defeat Twentynine Palms in two consecutive matches to claim the championship.
MCB made a strong showing, but wasn't able to conquer the home team.
"This was our house and our base and we were going to defend it," said Daily. "Everyone stepped up to defend their house. We are honored to have won the Regional Championship on our own turf."
"We had well-balanced players, executing and playing together, the coach was putting together a good game plan, and we knew who we had to stop from (Twentynine Palms)," said John Nelson, captain, MCB. "They had a lot of good talent. This is the deepest we've seen the Twentynine Palms team - all 12 are good players.
"I think we had pretty even teams and it was a close game, but the mental errors cost us," said Nelson.
"Someone has to lose," said Larry Lariosa, coach, MCB. "But the players from Marine Corps Base are winners because of their professionalism and the will to win they have shown during this tournament."
The level of competition wasn't the only admirable aspect of this tournament, according to Lariosa.
"I have to commend Twentynine Palms and MCCS Sports for hosting the tournament," said Lariosa. "In 35 years of coaching volleyball, this is the most outstanding venue I have seen. The planning and execution were outstanding. The support for the players was outstanding. MCCS went out of their way to provide a great tournament."
Twentynine Palms plans to submit their bid to host the tournament again next year, according to Best.