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Skye DeSilva Mathis of Stuttgart taps it over the net during a game against Brussels, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018.
Skye DeSilva Mathis of Stuttgart taps it over the net during a game against Brussels, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (Brian Ferguson/Stars and Stripes)

By Gregory Broome Stars and Stripes

The 2018 DODEA-Europe volleyball championship tournament plays out Thursday through Saturday at Kaiserslautern, Germany, featuring 23 teams competing for three divisional championships. Here’s the rundown of the contending teams, with their official seeds in each divisional bracket:

Division I1 Stuttgart Panthers: Eager for another championship after two-year reign ended in 2017.2 Ramstein Royals: Undefeated fall and star-studded lineup evoke program’s recent dynasty.3 Vicenza Cougars: Back among the division’s elite after a short, effective rebuild.4 Vilseck Falcons: Solid squad with the front-line talent to play with anyone in the bracket.5 Wiesbaden Warriors: Dark-horse entry ended season on a four-match winning streak.6 Naples Wildcats: Latent powerhouse looking to escape the bracket’s middle class.7 Kaiserslautern Raiders: Tournament host hoping to play a few extra matches in its new gym.8 Lakenheath Lancers: Defending champions in rebuilding mode after exit of talented core.9 SHAPE Spartans: Hunting for an upset after a winless divisional schedule. Division II1 Marymount Royals: Rising power handled a tough Italian schedule without a loss.2 Black Forest Falcons: Primed for postseason rigors after a Division I-heavy season.3 AFNORTH Lions: Small Benelux school saw no Division II opposition this fall.4 Aviano Saints: Flashed potential with strong showings against higher-regarded squads.5 Bahrain Falcons: Division’s farthest-flung entry reached the European final a year ago.6 Rota Admirals: Could perform above their seed after limited but competitive regular season.7 AOSR Falcons: Reigning champions must claw back to the top from bracket’s bottom seed. Division III1 Sigonella Jaguars: Reigning champs look to strengthen their grip on small-school sports.2 Spangdahlem Sentinels: A new arrival from Division II, an immediate threat in Division III.3 Alconbury Dragons: Reliable contenders finished third in Europe last year.4 Brussels Brigands: Hoping to meet or exceed last year’s second-place finish.5 Hohenfels Tigers: Got a boost of confidence from five-set defeat of SHAPE in fall finale.6 Ansbach Cougars: Playoff-ready after decent final-week showing vs. Division I competition.7 Baumholder Bucs: Struggling squad still searching for first win of the fall.broome.gregory@stripes.com Twitter: @broomestripes

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