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(Enlarge) Chris Carter of the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade tries to block 707th Communications Squadron's Henry Schott's spike during the intramural volleyball championship May 24 at Murphy Field House. The 707th defeated the 704th: 25-21, 19-25 and 15-12.

After the 707th Communications Squadron came within two points of winning the intramural volleyball championship last year, team captain Jordan Kroell sent a clear message to this team.

"Second place is not where we want to be," he told them. "We want to bring home the big trophy."

A year removed from the six-match series loss against the 34th Intelligence Squadron, the 707th CS took home the championship trophy May 24 after defeating the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade, 25-21, 19-25 and 15-12 at Murphy Field House.

The 707th finished the regular season with a dominating 10-1 record, with the team's sole loss coming against Cyber Command in the last game of the season. Irdise Ward-El of the 707th said that with a perfect season in their grasp, the players became "comfortable" and "played lazy" to close out the season.

Following the loss, however, the team went on a roll in the playoffs to go undefeated to the championship game.

"We came back into the playoffs with a better head on our shoulders," Ward-El said. "No more playing lazy just because we feel like we got it."

Finishing the season tied for third with two other teams, the 704th lost to the 707th in the quarterfinals and were sent to the losers bracket, where it defeated the Navy Information Operations Command Maryland Chiefs, 94th IS, and NIOC MD to work its way back to the championship.

Despite clawing back into contention, the 704th had to overcome another challenge in the intramural league's championship. Due to the double-elimination format of the playoffs, the team had to defeat the 707th twice.

John Haene said the 704th players were confident they could pull out consecutive wins to take home the championship.

"We're pretty much going to go all out in the first match," he said. "This is a good team, and we've been really competitive against them all season."

Last year, the 707th was in a same situation as the 704th, but battled back to make the championship series competitive. Ward-El and Kroell both noted it was crucial to come out strong and not let the 704th force a double-elimination game.

"It's very important to shut them down early; we don't want them to get momentum," Kroell said. "If we keep momentum on our side, we should have no issues."

In the championship match, the 707th put together a strong start to open the set, taking a quick lead in the first match. The 704th chipped away at the deficit to tie the match at 11 and took a 14-13 lead. Behind Kroell's five kills and ace, Ward-El's four kills and William Nice's two kills, the 707th regained the lead and won the match, 25-21. Haene and Bryan Rivera helped keep the 704th in the game with two kills each and several crucial blocks at the net.

Down by a match, the 704th took the second match 19-25 with strong performances from Haene, Rivera, William Huff and Marques Barrett. Huff found success from the service line, serving two aces, while Barrett dominated at the net blocking several spikes and producing three kills. Haene added another four kills and Rivera had three.

Kroell had three kills for the 707th and Nice added two for the 704th.

In a back-and-forth third match, Ward-El and Justin Klawitter helped the 707th pull away late in the match. Ward-El produced four kills. Klawitter also had four kills, including the game-winning spike in the 15-12 victory.

"It's beyond belief," Klawitter said of his spike. "I don't think I've ever played a sport where I actually made a difference at the end of the game."

Barrett and Haene again led the 704th with two kills each, but were unable to force a second game.

Kroell said the championship win was a weight off the player's shoulders and that the team was relieved to redeem last year's close championship loss.

"I was tired of being second place," he said.

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