BFA spikers will try to defend boys title
Stars and Stripes October 25, 2023
Black Forest Academy entered last year’s revamped DODEA-Europe boys volleyball championships as a mystery to much of the field.
The Falcons, who dominated play en route to the title, are a bit less mysterious with an expanded schedule against DODEA schools this fall. But they might be just as dominant.
Coach Lance Dockrey’s team lost five seniors to graduation. But they gained numerous seasoned players who weren’t on the courts at Aviano Air Base last year for various reasons.
“I think we were able to replace (the lost seniors) with guys who are veterans from our junior varsity team,” Dockrey said via a telephone interview Wednesday.
Gone is last year’s tourney MVP Josh Jung. But junior Timothy Sivonen and seniors Peter Cagwin, Ha Eun Lee and Josh Dockrey return. And senior Barney Sivonen didn’t play in the tournament a year ago.
The two Sivonen brothers both top 6 feet “and are a force to be reckoned with,” Dockery said. “When they are firing on all cylinders, they are hard to stop.”
Lee, the team’s primary setter, didn’t play against Bahrain in the Falcons’ only loss this season.
A record 12 teams are competing this year, breaking last year’s mark of 10. BFA (7-1) has seen less than half the field. No team has seen every opponent.
That includes Rota, which is the second seed in one of the two pools.
“I think there are five teams that could win it,” Admirals coach Edward DeMeritt said after an Oct. 14 loss to Aviano, the top team in Pool A. Lakenheath, which fielded a team last year in the tournament for the first time, is the top seed in Pool B ahead of BFA. The Lancers are undefeated, but all their victories have come against Vilseck – fielding a team for the first year – or Ramstein and SHAPE, both of which don’t have varsity team status yet and won’t be competing in the tournament.
Host Vicenza (8-3) is the only other team with a winning record this season. But Bahrain has played only three times, splitting with BFA in the process. And last year’s runner-up, American Overseas School of Rome, entered that tournament with a losing record before going on a run and could do so again.
“It will come down to who’s playing the best volleyball when it matters,” Dockrey said.
Matches start at 8 a.m. Thursday with pool play split between Vicenza’s newly opened high school and its adjacent middle school. The championship match is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday.