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Lakenheath Lancer A’lydia McNeal spikes the ball across the net as Stuttgart’s Ainsley Baker tries to block her shot during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Lakenheath Lancer A’lydia McNeal spikes the ball across the net as Stuttgart’s Ainsley Baker tries to block her shot during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Despite being just its second match of the DODEA European championships, the Ramstein Royals were facing near elimination.

The Royals lost both sets to Wiesbaden in their opening match, and in came crosstown rival Kaiserslautern, the No. 2 seed. Dropping both to the Raiders would have put Ramstein in a deep hole.

Instead, the Royals took the first set 25-22 and pushed Kaiserslautern in the second set before losing 29-27 Thursday at Ramstein High School.

The Division I pool play includes only two-set matches and the two teams who win the most sets Thursday and Friday advance to the championship game.

Nyla Williamson of SHAPE, right, sends the ball over the net as Stuttgart Panthers’ Isciss Perez goes for the block Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Nyla Williamson of SHAPE, right, sends the ball over the net as Stuttgart Panthers’ Isciss Perez goes for the block Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Isabella Whaley of the Stuttgart Panthers makes the dig after a serve by SHAPE  during a 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament game Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Isabella Whaley of the Stuttgart Panthers makes the dig after a serve by SHAPE during a 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament game Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Lakenheath’s A’lydia McNeal jumps to spike the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament as her teammates Joraika Rodriguez, left, and Olivia Bouchard prepare to assist, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Across the net, Stuttgart’s Ainsley Baker prepares to block the shot.

Lakenheath’s A’lydia McNeal jumps to spike the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament as her teammates Joraika Rodriguez, left, and Olivia Bouchard prepare to assist, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Across the net, Stuttgart’s Ainsley Baker prepares to block the shot. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Stuttgart head coach Bethany Trimble sets the tone for the second half of the game against Lakenheath during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Stuttgart head coach Bethany Trimble sets the tone for the second half of the game against Lakenheath during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden Warrior Lorelei Kemmer jumps for the ball during the Division I game against SHAPE, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Wiesbaden Warrior Lorelei Kemmer jumps for the ball during the Division I game against SHAPE, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Nyla Williamson of SHAPE sends the ball over the net as Wiesbaden’s Lyndsey Urick stands ready to block during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Nyla Williamson of SHAPE sends the ball over the net as Wiesbaden’s Lyndsey Urick stands ready to block during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Macy Gilbert of SHAPE  jumps for the ball during the Division I game against Wiesbaden Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Macy Gilbert of SHAPE jumps for the ball during the Division I game against Wiesbaden Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

“We had to take a set from K-Town,” Ramstein coach Kandel Baxter said. “Now we put the pressure back on K-Town and Wiesbaden because they have yet to play each other. The fact that we took K-Town to 27-29 mean we beat K-Town by more than they beat us.”

The Royals started out slow, trailing 9-4 early. They got back into it thanks in part to three kills by sophomore middle hitter Jodia Relojo. After going down 22-21, they scored the last four points to win the set.

“This was one of the most motivated games of the season,” junior setter Jazmyn Hall said. “We kept pushing because we knew what the final outcome could be and we knew we could beat them if we really put our all.”

Ramstein carried over that play in the second set, leading 22-14 at one point.

That’s when Kaiserslautern rallied. Junior middle blocker Moriah Deane had a couple dinks that scored points to begin the comeback and the Raiders eventually took a 25-24 lead. After going back and forth for a few points, Kaiserslautern pulled away to draw the match.

“To come back and beat them 29-27, it showed a lot of grit,” Kaiserslautern coach Zac Robinson said. “Our kids have that. They will keep on battling until they get the job done, which they did. That was a huge game.”

Baxter, meanwhile, could not have asked for a better performance from her squad.

While going 0-1-1, the results came against the top two seeds in Division I in Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern.

Ramstein finished the day with a win over Vilseck, 25-12, 25-14.

“We were the only team that had to face Nos. 1 and 2 back-to-back today,” Baxter said. “So, we knew we had a job to get done, and this is our home court. We love our fans and knew we had to get the job done. Otherwise, we would be out of it.”

Kaiserslautern now must find a way to get something out of its match against Wiesbaden. If the Raiders cannot get one set from the Warriors, then - should Ramstein and Kaiserslautern win out - the tiebreaker will be total points scored.

Stuttgart’s Ayana Gomez spikes the ball during the Panthers’ match against the Lakenheath Lancers, Thursday,  Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Stuttgart’s Ayana Gomez spikes the ball during the Panthers’ match against the Lakenheath Lancers, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden coach Maria Taiafi-Husseini leads a huddle with her Warriors during the game against SHAPE, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Wiesbaden coach Maria Taiafi-Husseini leads a huddle with her Warriors during the game against SHAPE, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Lakenheath Lancer Riley Kraft spikes the ball across the net as Stuttgart's Berea Brian, left, and Ainsley Baker attempt to block her shot, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Lakenheath Lancer Riley Kraft spikes the ball across the net as Stuttgart's Berea Brian, left, and Ainsley Baker attempt to block her shot, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Nyla Williamson of SHAPE sets up a serve against Wiesbaden during the 2022 DODEA-”Europe Volleyball Tournament, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Nyla Williamson of SHAPE sets up a serve against Wiesbaden during the 2022 DODEA-”Europe Volleyball Tournament, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden Warrior Lorelei Kemmer jumps to block a spiked ball by Bella Smith of SHAPE, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Wiesbaden Warrior Lorelei Kemmer jumps to block a spiked ball by Bella Smith of SHAPE, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Lakenheath coach Daric Aldrich leads a team huddle during the Lancer's game against Stuttgart, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Lakenheath coach Daric Aldrich leads a team huddle during the Lancer's game against Stuttgart, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden finished the first day with a 3-0 record and perfect 150 points.

“We know that we have to win sets, and we need to score points because we don’t know how this is going to unfold at the end,” Robinson said. “We want to be one of those top two. It’s pretty stressful with only two teams advancing to the final without the semifinals.”

The Royals like their chances, with matches against Lakenheath, Stuttgart and SHAPE on Friday. Lakenheath and Stuttgart went 1-1-1, while Vilseck went 0-3 and SHAPE went 0-2.

“If we can keep doing smart plays, knowing where everything is, I think that will push us,” Hall said.

Ramstein's Layla Kim, center, bumps the ball as Lily Rethage, left, and Jasmine Jones, right, follow during a match against Kaiserslautern at tthe DODEA European volleyball championships on Thursday at Ramstein High School at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes

Ramstein's Layla Kim, center, bumps the ball as Lily Rethage, left, and Jasmine Jones, right, follow during a match against Kaiserslautern at tthe DODEA European volleyball championships on Thursday at Ramstein High School at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes ()

Kaiserslautern's Sage Barnes, foreground, goes for a dig during pool-play action at the DODEA European volleyball championships on Thursday at Ramstein High School at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Piper Nowlin follows in the background.

Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes

Kaiserslautern's Sage Barnes, foreground, goes for a dig during pool-play action at the DODEA European volleyball championships on Thursday at Ramstein High School at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Piper Nowlin follows in the background. Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes ()

Lakenheath's Chloe Aldrich, right, hits the ball as A'lydia McNeal, left, and Arianna Christian watch during a match against Vilseck on Thursday during the DODEA European volleyball championships at Ramstein High School at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes

Lakenheath's Chloe Aldrich, right, hits the ball as A'lydia McNeal, left, and Arianna Christian watch during a match against Vilseck on Thursday during the DODEA European volleyball championships at Ramstein High School at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes ()

Stuttgart's Ayana Gomez spikes the ball during a match against Kaiserslautern on Thursday at the DODEA European volleyball championships at Ramstein High School.

Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes

Stuttgart's Ayana Gomez spikes the ball during a match against Kaiserslautern on Thursday at the DODEA European volleyball championships at Ramstein High School. Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes ()

Vilseck's Kaylani Sandoval serves during a match against Lakenheath on Thursday during the DODEA European volleyball championships at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes

Vilseck's Kaylani Sandoval serves during a match against Lakenheath on Thursday during the DODEA European volleyball championships at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes ()

author picture
Matt is a sports reporter for Stars and Stripes based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. A son of two career Air Force aircraft maintenance technicians, he previously worked at newspapers in northeast Ohio for 10 years and is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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