SURFOR Sailor and Navy Women Take Home Gold in Tie-Breaker

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class (Surface Warfare) Jason J. Perry, SURFOR Public Affairs

CHERRY POINT, N.C. (June 9, 2009) – Lt. j.g. Mariellen Carnes of Virginia Beach, Va. took home the gold medal at the Armed Forces Volleyball Championship played at Gramercy Christian School on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

The All-Navy Women’s Volleyball team went undefeated through five matches. After losing the first match by a narrow two-point margin, they conquered their rival Air Force team in a gripping tie-breaker, withstanding a convincing rally by the Air Force to earn its title.

“It was refreshing to see how many people were as passionate about volleyball as I am,” said Carnes. “It was really nice to have that comforting feeling, knowing that we were really that good, like you already knew who was going to win by the time the first five points had been scored.”

Tournament play differs from season matches. All games are played in a double round-robin format. Each team plays three matches within the first two days. Matches are played in sets of two, with the second match starting one half hour after the last game of the previous match. Three out of five wins in a match constitute a win. One-minute “technical” time outs occur at 13 points of each set.

“Going into each match, going through the feelings and knowing without a doubt who was going to win and who was going to lose,” said Carnes. “That’s a confidence that everyone hopes for, the difference is we got to see it. We had such a mature team, so everybody was seasoned enough that if anyone made a mistake they didn’t get down on themselves and get mentally out of the game. They would just bounce back and the next time they would hit it even harder or block it more solidly or that they nail the next serve and it was really nice to be able to play with girls like that.”

Carnes has loved volleyball ever since she can remember. She had a poster as a young girl that mapped out milestones toward the ultimate goal of Olympic qualification by 2010. “I don’t think I’m that good yet,” she confessed. “It would definitely be hard with my commitment to the Navy and I would have to drop everything and just train non-stop so I’ve let go of that one for the most part.”

While she is not certain about her long-term volleyball career she, like her parents, is extremely proud of her accomplishments. She looks forward to playing club volleyball this spring and summer and of course, trying out for the All-Navy Team next year.

“I made new friends and new connections for playing volleyball out here in California,” said Carnes. “It was really nice to just be part of the winning team. I felt kind of like a pro athlete with my training and my focus being solely on volleyball for an entire month and then to win the gold when it was all said and done is to me kind of like winning the Superbowl.”

Carnes is currently assigned to Commander Naval Surface Forces Pacific, Commander Naval Surface Force Pacific Fleet and Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, Calif.

“I really appreciate everything I have been able to do in the Navy,” she said. “From my first semester at the Naval Academy and now as a surface warfare officer, I have been very fortunate and I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.”