By Scott Prater
Ross Wetmore and Doug Hale aren’t used to playing for the same team.
Last year, the players faced off against each other in the Schriever Intramural Volleyball Championship game, Wetmore set for eventual champion 2nd Space Operations Squadron while Hale hit for eventual runner up 4th Space Operations Squadron.
This year’s league looks quite a bit different, however, as many of the base’s best players have either switched squadrons, or changed teams for any number of reasons.
So the odd form of musical chairs brought Wetmore and Hale together along with Lester Lorenz and Tammy Tucker for Feb. 23’s season opener at the fitness center.
The group makes up the core of the dual-squadron team 50th Operations Support Squadron/50th Operations Group Standardization and Evaluation Division, which knocked off 50th Civil Engineer Squadron 25-20, 25-20 to start the season on a winning note.
“This was really the first time we’ve all managed to get together,” said Wetmore, the team’s captain. “Doug and Lorenz are going to be our main hitters, and really, it’s nice having two. That way you always have one of them hitting in every rotation.”
Thanks in part to its scrappy defense, 50 CES kept both games tight early on, but it was Tucker who took over in the first game. With the teams tied at 6-6, she stepped to the service line and promptly served for the next 11 points. Wielding a wicked dip serve, Tucker handcuffed 50 CES receivers on nearly every point and helped 50 OSS/OGV build an insurmountable lead.
In a second game dominated by errant hits, off-balance sets and rusty play, the teams traded points most of the way. 50 CES led 17-14 before Hale and Lorenz found their hitting rhythm and 50 OSS/OGV managed to pull away.
“Their defense surprised me,” Hale said of his 50 CES opponents. “They picked up a lot of balls I didn’t think they could get to… and then they turned them around on us. I don’t think we were prepared for that.”
Once again it was Tucker who drove the 50 OSS/OGV rally. She served for six straight points to give her team the lead for good, while Hale and Lorenz finished the match with two straight kills.
“The great thing for me today was that Lorenz was helping me hit,” Hale said. “As I jumped, he would survey the defense and tell me which way to hit, either down the line or at an angle. That was really helpful and it confirmed some of the great things I had heard about him from other players.”
In other opening-day action, 22nd Space Operations Squadron beat 50th Space Communication Squadron 25-9, 25-11, and 4th Space Operations Squadron escaped with a 25-22, 13-25, 15-13 victory over 310th Space Wing.