COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Army looked good in the second round of sitting volleyball competition at the Warrior Games Monday night, beating Special Operations Command in two straight games to take the best-of-three match (26-24, 25-20).
The game was hotly contested from the get-go. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, came out charging, leading the game early on before Army started to slowly pull closer. More than a few times the teams slugged it out with jams and spikes at the net. First to 25 by 2 points was a hard-fought battle for both teams. Tied at 24, Army won serve and finally banged it over on game-point to win game one, 26-24.
In the second game, Army jumped out in front quickly and at one point led by 8, cranking on SOCOM. With the score at 19-11, SOCOM took a time out to regroup and moved back on the court to foot-stomping and flag-waving from both sides in the bleachers. SOCOM pushed hard, taking the score to 19-18 before turning the ball back to Army.
Army then went ahead 22-18 before SOCOM got the ball to gain a final point. From there Army never looked back, taking the game 25-19 to win the match.
Following the match, SOCOM's Retired Spc. Kyle Butcher said he was disappointed in losing to Army, then he laughed and added, "But, not really… they're all my brothers and sisters and it's just good to hang with them."
Butcher suffered multiple gunshot wounds while serving with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, in Iraq, in 2004. He was able to compete in the games through the non-profit Rangers Lead the Way Fund.
"The adaptive sports program has been just great," he said. "When you leave the service, you can kind of lose that brotherhood and camaraderie, so getting back into these things allows us to not only play sports and be competitive, it allows us to connect and makes for a better experience."
Spc. Jason Blair of the Army team said it was a great honor to compete in his first Warrior Games, though he did take home a silver medal in 20-kilometer recumbent cycling at the Army Warrior Trials in West Point, New York, earlier this year. He's being medically retired from Active Duty at the end of the end of October.
Blair said when he was introduced to adaptive sports, it became "one of the best medicines out there for me personally."
"Looking back at where I was a year and a half ago, to where I am now, the Army has been there for me the whole time," he added.
In the second match of the evening for Army, the team came up against an unyielding and undefeated Marine Corps team that beat Army 25-8 and 25-20. Earlier Navy lost two straight to the Marines, 25-8, 25-20.
The sitting volleyball tournament continues with the bronze medal game Oct. 1, and the gold medal on Oct. 2.
As of Sept. 30, Army led the overall medal count at the Warrior Games with 30 (nine gold, 13 silver and eight bronze); followed by the Air Force with 25 medals (nine gold, seven silver and nine bronze); Marine Corps with 22 (11 gold, seven silver, four bronze); SOCOM with nine medals (five gold, one silver, and three bronze); Navy with seven medals (one gold, two silver, four bronze).