The Ramstein men’s varsity volleyball team outshone their competition, winning the preseason “Veterans Day Tournament” held at Naval Support Agency Capoducho in Naples, Italy Nov. 12 to Sunday.
Ramstein went 5-0 in pool play, and were also undefeated in the play-offs. In the championship game, they were pitted against Naval Air Station Sigonella – who upset the contender Aviano Air Base in the semifinals – making it a Navy vs. Air Force final.
“The final match was a slugfest,” said Staff Sgt. Ron Istre, middle blocker. “We both have very potent outside hitters, and we were trading shots like two heavyweights.”
In a best-of-five final, Ramstein won 3-0. It was Ramstein’s size that Sigonella just couldn’t overcome. With four players over 6 feet tall and a couple 6-foot-5-inch players, the Sigonella hitters had a lot of hands to hit around.
“Our blocking was crucial. Most teams we play against can’t match up with our blocking, both outside and in the middle,” said Istre. “We have been playing together for so long, that it’s like a finely tuned machine when it’s working right.”
The Ramstein winning streak began in 2002, as they won gold medals from the 2002, 2003, and 2004 U.S. Air Forces in Europe Championships. Additionally, they have won the last two Final Four, which pits the top two USAFE teams against the top two U.S. Army-Europe teams.