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Spangdahlem's Niyia Fields tries to bump the ball over the net Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Spangdahlem's Niyia Fields tries to bump the ball over the net Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – An ankle injury ended her sophomore season on the basketball court. The coronavirus pandemic finished off pretty much everything her junior year. So Victoria Morris wasn’t going to let a few stitches keep her off the volleyball court Friday.

“I knew I was going to come back,” the AFNORTH senior said after her team went unbeaten on the opening day of the DODEA-Europe Division III Volleyball Tournament, earning a spot in Saturday’s championship in the process. “There was no doubt.”

Well, actually there was at least some doubt as Morris had to leave her team’s opening victory over Baumholder after suffering a cut on her leg while running into the stands to try to play an errant ball. She and her parents spent more than four hours at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center before returning to the court. But with three stitches and a wrap around her right leg, she would eventually return.

AFNORTH's Victoria Morris watches teammate Isabella Guest bump the ball during round-robin play at the DODEA-Europe Division III volleyball tournament on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Kaiserslautern, Germany.
AFNORTH's Victoria Morris watches teammate Isabella Guest bump the ball during round-robin play at the DODEA-Europe Division III volleyball tournament on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Ansbach's Tessa Stanley pushes the ball toward the net during round-robin play Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament at Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Ansbach's Tessa Stanley pushes the ball toward the net during round-robin play Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament at Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Hohenfels' Sophia Bucalo pushes the ball over the net Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaisersluatern, Germany.
Hohenfels' Sophia Bucalo pushes the ball over the net Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaisersluatern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

In the meantime, the Lions knocked off No. 1 seed Ansbach – avenging the only loss they had during the regular season.

“It was a big emotional game for the girls,” said coach Christopher Guest. Part of that emotion was losing their senior captain – who was managing to follow the results thanks to some messaging between parents.

“I was cheering in the emergency room,” Morris said with a laugh.

Baumholder coach Matthew Martinez watches Galiana Baumann start the Bucs offense on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Baumholder coach Matthew Martinez watches Galiana Baumann start the Bucs offense on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Brussels' Hannah Thompson bumps the ball at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.
Brussels' Hannah Thompson bumps the ball at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Brussels' Adelaide Duffy battles a spinning ball and patches of sunlight streaming into the Kaiserslautern gym on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament.
Brussels' Adelaide Duffy battles a spinning ball and patches of sunlight streaming into the Kaiserslautern gym on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Though the Lions were laughing the loudest after the first day of round-robin play, other teams had their moments.

Spangdahlem lost its first match of the day to Hohenfels, then won the next three. A victory over AFNORTH to finish off round-robin play early Saturday would earn the Sentinels a spot in the final game. A loss could create a three-way tie with the Tigers and Cougars if both those teams win early Saturday as well.

Hohenfels won its first two matches of the year to open the tournament – doubling the number of sets it has won this season in the process.

Baumholder's Emmilisee Rodriguez bumps the ball during round-robin play at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, in Kaiserslautern, Germany
Baumholder's Emmilisee Rodriguez bumps the ball during round-robin play at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, in Kaiserslautern, Germany (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Hohenfels' Jazlyn Campbell sets the ball high into the air to begin the Tigers' attack on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Hohenfels' Jazlyn Campbell sets the ball high into the air to begin the Tigers' attack on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

“We’re a scrappy little group,” coach Stephanie Schnabel said of the Tigers, seeded sixth in a six-team field.

Top-seeded Ansbach, like Hohenfels, split its two matches. The Cougars were the only squad to take a set from AFNORTH and did so in commanding fashion, winning the opener 25-8. They threatened to take the second set as well, but Guest called a couple key timeouts that broke the Cougars’ momentum and the Lions went on to win the second set and force a third that they won 15-12.

Ansbach's Georgia Bryant sends the ball over the net instead of setting it during round-robin play Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Ansbach's Georgia Bryant sends the ball over the net instead of setting it during round-robin play Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
AFNORTH's Sophia Mier leaps to send the ball back across the net during round-robin play at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Kaiserslautern, Germany.
AFNORTH's Sophia Mier leaps to send the ball back across the net during round-robin play at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Spangdahlem's Audrey Hauck bumps the ball Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Spangdahlem's Audrey Hauck bumps the ball Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the DODEA-Europe Division III tournament in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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