The Alpha and Bravo Companies of the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East (WWBn-E) on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune went head to head in seated volleyball at the battalion’s Hope and Care Center gym as part of the battalion’s monthly Challenge Cup series, July 11. The Alpha Company won the best-of-three match by winning the first and third games. Bravo Company kept the competition close by extending the deciding game to extra points, but Alpha eventually was victorious by a score of 27-25 in a thrilling finish.
In Game One, Alpha controlled their serve well and held a 15-10 lead at the first timeout. Alpha went on to finish Game One on a 10-5 run to pick up their first win with a score of 25-15. Alpha needed just one more win to take the best-of-three match, but the Bravo Company showed resiliency in Game Two by holding off Alpha and taking the game 25-21 to even things up and force a Game Three tiebreaker.
In Game Three, Alpha got off to a fast start by taking an 11-5 lead, forcing Bravo to buckle down. Bravo then rose to the challenge and bounced back to tie the game at 12 points apiece. Heading down the stretch, both teams were neck and neck until Alpha got a match-point opportunity at 24-22. The rejuvenated Bravo team took the next two points to tie it up at 24-24.
In the win-by-two scenario, Alpha saw two more match points, which it took advantage of, and won the third game 27-25 to claim win number two as well as the title of Challenge Cup Champions for the month of July.
“Seated volleyball, to me, is probably one of the most fun games that you will ever play and also one of the most challenging,” said Jaime Shanks, a sports specialist at the WWBn-E. “It’s an incredible game of skill and strategy. You have to learn how to communicate and play as a team. You have to learn how to utilize all six players on the court, so it really teaches teamwork, camaraderie and cooperation, which is one of my favorite things about it.”
Shanks also recognizes that each month’s Challenge Cup event gives the Marine participants within the battalion a chance to feel more like a part of a team.
“I think they get a sense of that teamwork and camaraderie that they kind of lose a little bit when they come here, when they leave their battalion, and they are with a whole new group of people,” Shanks said. “It gives them a chance to learn how to work together, learn what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to work around them.”
The Challenge Cup also gives the Marines an opportunity to train for the Marine Corps Trials. The trials are a Marine Corps’ qualifying event Marines must compete in for a chance to be selected to Team Marine Corps for the U.S. Department of Defense Warrior Games, an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans that was established in 2010.
Seated volleyball, a staple event at the Warrior Games, is also included in the London-based Invictus Games, another large scale adaptive sports competition for eligible service members and veterans.
Two Marines from Camp Lejeune who were on Team Marine Corps at the 2019 Warrior Games and also competed in WWBn-E’s seated volleyball competition are Staff Sgt. Jose Panez of the Alpha Company and Gunnery Sgt. Raymond Archer of the Bravo Company.
“I enjoy the close games,” Panez said. “Those games are the most fun and intense. Your teammates and the crowds cheer you on. It is really motivating.”