Jockeying for not only sets, but points in D-I tourney
Stars and Stripes October 27, 2022
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.
“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.
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.