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Rickalia Goss of the Sigonella Jaguars lunges for the ball while battling the Ansbach Cougars during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III championship game Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Rickalia Goss of the Sigonella Jaguars lunges for the ball while battling the Ansbach Cougars during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III championship game Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Ansbach capped off the school’s best volleyball season in recent memory Saturday with a hard-fought DODEA European Division III title, beating Sigonella 25-23, 25-19, 25-21.

The score seesawed several times in the third and decisive set. Just when it looked like Sigonella had the momentum about midway through, the Cougars clawed their way back from a 12-15 deficit with a block and a pair of kills.

With the set tied at 20 all, two aces by freshman Kennedy Lange helped put Ansbach up 23-20.

After the two teams exchanged points again, Sigonella tried to hang on but sent a hard-hit ball up into the rafters, causing the Cougars to erupt in celebration on the court.

“It feels surreal,” gushed senior setter Georgia Bryant, who recorded 16 assists, seven kills and seven digs in the game. “Me and my teammates have been dreaming about this all season. It feels good. We worked really hard.”

Cougars coach Deb Keller-Mitchell said the team worked hard on mental toughness “and I think it showed. We just get out there and compete and nothing phases us.”

For Ansbach’s five seniors, “it’s a great memory for them to have,” Keller-Mitchell said.

Ansbach’s Tierney Bogard hits the ball across the net as Ryleigh Denton of Sigonella jumps for the block during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III championship game Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Ansbach’s Tierney Bogard hits the ball across the net as Ryleigh Denton of Sigonella jumps for the block during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III championship game Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Ansbach coach Deb Keller-Mitchell cheers as her team closes in on a win against Sigonella during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Her team bested Sigonella in three sets for the Division III championship.

Ansbach coach Deb Keller-Mitchell cheers as her team closes in on a win against Sigonella during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Her team bested Sigonella in three sets for the Division III championship. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

The Ansbach Cougars celebrate their win of the 2022 DODEA-Europe Division III Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The team bested Sigonella 25-23, 25-19, 25-21.

The Ansbach Cougars celebrate their win of the 2022 DODEA-Europe Division III Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The team bested Sigonella 25-23, 25-19, 25-21. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Laila McIntyre spikes the ball across to Sigonella during the final Division III championship match at the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Laila McIntyre spikes the ball across to Sigonella during the final Division III championship match at the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Ansbach’s Georgia Bryant sets the ball for teammate Klea Russell during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Sigonella’s Isabella Naselli stands ready across the net.

Ansbach’s Georgia Bryant sets the ball for teammate Klea Russell during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Sigonella’s Isabella Naselli stands ready across the net. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Besides Bryant, the team’s seniors are Allison Schuck, Sophia Duran-Stanton, Tierney Bogard and Kennedy Kohrs.

Kohrs, a middle blocker, put up five kills and seven digs in the title match, while outside hitter Schuck went 15 for 15 from the service line and added six digs.

Sophomore Natalie Ritter led the Cougars with four aces. She also recorded eight digs in the match, while junior Trinity Batin, an outside hitter, made 13 digs, four kills and six assists.

Bryant and Lange were named to DODEA’s Division III all-tournament team, along with Sigonella’s Fabiola Mercado-Rodriguez and Isabelle Balleza. Bryant was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Spangdahlem’s Kaylee Lauer, Alconbury’s Alondra Acosta, Hohfenfels’ Kennedy Liverpool and AFNORTH’s Bella Benedetto rounded out the team.

Sigonella coach Shawn McCarthy said Bryant “was the big difference in the match.

“Besides setting up their hitters, she was dumping the ball over the net on the second ball to holes on the court and they really got a lot of points that way.”

Entering the tournament as a fifth seed, “we kind of over performed,” McCarthy said. “But even our over performing could not really match up to Ansbach. They had a better team. They earned their championship today.”

Laney Rearedon of the Sigonella Jaguars digs the ball over the net during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III Championship game against Ansbach Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Laney Rearedon of the Sigonella Jaguars digs the ball over the net during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III Championship game against Ansbach Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Kylah Tuazon sets the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III Championship game against the Sigonella Jaguars, Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Kylah Tuazon sets the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Division III Championship game against the Sigonella Jaguars, Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella’s Isabella Naselli jumps for the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Championship game against Ansbach as her teammate Fabiola Mercado-Rodriguez looks on Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Sigonella’s Isabella Naselli jumps for the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Championship game against Ansbach as her teammate Fabiola Mercado-Rodriguez looks on Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella’s Emese Hriczu sets the ball as Rickalia Goss gets ready to spike it across to Ansbach during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Sigonella’s Emese Hriczu sets the ball as Rickalia Goss gets ready to spike it across to Ansbach during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Trinity Batin of the Ansbach Cougars sets the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Trinity Batin of the Ansbach Cougars sets the ball during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Mercado-Rodriguez, a senior who led the Jaguars on offense with five kills, eight assists and three aces, said she was proud of her team.

“I’m not really upset that we lost,” she said. “We played our best and we know we did, so we’re all good.”

Junior outside hitter Laney Reardon had five kills for the Jaguars, while Balleza had nine digs on defense.

Lange, a 6-foot freshman, put up 12 kills, two blocks, three aces and 14 digs for the Cougars.

The team showcased the mental toughness that Keller-Mitchell spoke of when falling behind to a surging Sigonella in the third set, she said.

“We knew we had to push really, really hard, because if they were to take a set against us, they could come back,” she said. “So we pushed ourselves as hard as we could.”

The victory “feels really good,” she said, “because this in the first time in a while.”

The last time Ansbach won a volleyball title was up for debate immediately after the championship. The last championship banner in the school’s gym dates from 1992, though some believe at least one title might not be represented.

“There’s no question about today,” Keller-Mitchell said. “We know the exact time, date and place” of the Cougars newest title.

Ansbach’s Tierney Bogard yells feedback to her teammates during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Championship game against the Sigonella Jaguars Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Ansbach’s Cougars bested Sigonella 25-23, 25-19, 25-21.

Ansbach’s Tierney Bogard yells feedback to her teammates during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Championship game against the Sigonella Jaguars Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Ansbach’s Cougars bested Sigonella 25-23, 25-19, 25-21. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella Jaguars coach Shawn McCarthy cheers on  Rickalia Goss after his team scored a point during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Sigonella Jaguars coach Shawn McCarthy cheers on Rickalia Goss after his team scored a point during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

The Sigonella Jaguars talk about their strategy for the next set against Ansbach during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The Sigonella Jaguars talk about their strategy for the next set against Ansbach during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella’s Isabella Naselli spike the ball across the net as Ansbach Cougars Trinity Batin, left, and Kennedy Lange jump to block her shot during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Sigonella’s Isabella Naselli spike the ball across the net as Ansbach Cougars Trinity Batin, left, and Kennedy Lange jump to block her shot during the 2022 DODEA-Europe Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

Kalea Russell, center, celebrates with her teammates after the Ansbach Cougars won the 2022 DODEA-Europe Division III Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Kalea Russell, center, celebrates with her teammates after the Ansbach Cougars won the 2022 DODEA-Europe Division III Volleyball Tournament Oct. 29, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Alexander Riedel/Stars and Stripes)

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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