Subscribe
Ramstein's Jasmine Jones, center, bumps the ball while teammates Lily Rethage, left, and Kellani Gonzalez watch during pool-play action at the DODEA European volleyball championships Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Ramstein's Jasmine Jones, center, bumps the ball while teammates Lily Rethage, left, and Kellani Gonzalez watch during pool-play action at the DODEA European volleyball championships Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Friday morning’s match between Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern felt like a final, even though both teams still had two more matches.

That’s because for the Raiders, it was.

Kaiserslautern needed to get at least one set from the Warriors in order to be one of the top two teams advancing to the final of the DODEA European Division I girls volleyball final on Saturday.

Mission accomplished.

The Raiders took the first set 25-17 before losing the second set 25-22, giving them the breathing room they needed.

“(Thursday) was so frantic and chaotic for us,” Kaiserslautern coach Zac Robinson said. “So, going into today, kind of our mantra was calm, cool and collected, and I think they did a really good job of that in that first set.”

Going toe to toe with Wiesbaden during the regular season in five-set and four-set losses, the Raiders searched for an edge. And they got it with their serving.

Kaiserslautern went on a 13-3 run in the first set to take an 18-11 lead. Over that stretch, the Raiders posted five aces – three from senior Piper Nowlin and one each from seniors Se’maiya Farrow and Sage Barnes.

Coupled with an unexpected lineup change, and the Warriors couldn’t cope early.

“They changed up their lineup,” Wiesbaden coach Maria Taiafi-Husseini said. “They moved their middle to the outside to get away from our middles, so that’s something we’re going to have to adjust to. We’re going to have to put up some blocks because that Sage, she’s a good hitter.”

The Warriors managed to bounce back in the second set, though, as Lyndsey Urick got more involved.

The 6-foot-5 senior middle blocker had three kills, blocked one of Kaiserslautern’s attacks for a point and added a dink for point as well. It proved to be the catalyst as the Warriors pulled away in the end.

“We tried to serve tough and get them out of system a little bit so they can’t run their middles, but they actually were able to run their middles quite a bit,” Robinson said. “We also had a few overpasses. If you overpass with (Urick), she’s going to put it down.”

Lakenheath's Adrianna Christian, center, digs a ball while teammates, from left, A'lydia McNeal, Joraika Rodriguez and Victoria Pina follow during Division I pool-play action at the DODEA European volleyball championships on Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Lakenheath's Adrianna Christian, center, digs a ball while teammates, from left, A'lydia McNeal, Joraika Rodriguez and Victoria Pina follow during Division I pool-play action at the DODEA European volleyball championships on Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Lyndsey Urick, center, prepares to spike the ball as teammate Elizabeth Troxel watches and Kaiserslautern's Mariska Campbell gets ready to block during DODEA European volleyball championship pool-play action Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Wiesbaden's Lyndsey Urick, center, prepares to spike the ball as teammate Elizabeth Troxel watches and Kaiserslautern's Mariska Campbell gets ready to block during DODEA European volleyball championship pool-play action Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

Kaiserslautern's Se'maiya Farrow, center, sets the ball while teammate Mariska Campbell, right, gets into position and Isabella Daep, background, watches during a DODEA European volleyball championship pool-play match against Wiesbaden on Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Kaiserslautern's Se'maiya Farrow, center, sets the ball while teammate Mariska Campbell, right, gets into position and Isabella Daep, background, watches during a DODEA European volleyball championship pool-play match against Wiesbaden on Friday at Ramstein High School on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

The split put Kaiserslautern in the driver’s seat for the final and had Ramstein, with whom the Raiders had split a pair of sets during the first day, behind by one set.

Losing a set to Lakenheath ended all hopes for the Royals, as Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden both won out. Ramstein will face the Lancers again in Saturday’s third-place matchup.

“The round robin just didn’t work out in our favor,” Ramstein coach Kandel Baxter said, “but I’m proud of the girls, that they kept pushing and made sure we made that third-fourth game.”

As for the final, to be played at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Taiafi-Husseini expects the match to be tight, as almost all sets between the two have been this season.

“I feel like it’s going to get really intense,” Taiafi-Husseini said. “Last year, they got third and we got second. So, we’re both very hungry for that first spot.”

Kaiserslautern, meanwhile, enters the match brimming with confidence. Senior libero Xin Ai Robinson noted the Warriors lost their invincibility in the Raiders’ eyes.

“It also changed our mindset about playing Wiesbaden (Saturday) during the championship – that they are beatable,” Xin Ai Robinson said. “It was always a mentality thing that they weren’t beatable, but now we know that they are.”

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.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up