Big schools event is a toss-up after opening day
Stars and Stripes October 26, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The Stuttgart volleyball team has shown glimpses of what coach Bethany Trimble sees as its potential.
The problem has been mistakes have been the Panthers’ downfall, especially against the top teams in Division I.
During their third round-robin match of the 2023 DODEA European volleyball championships at Southside Fitness Center on Ramstein Air Base, the Panthers finally managed to put it all together. Stuttgart upset second-seeded Ramstein 24-26, 25-20, 15-12 to improve to 2-1 in the Division I tournament.
“We’ve had periods of brilliance all season long, but it’s that unforced errors piece of things that has tanked us in matches that we’ve lost,” Trimble said. “We finally put a match together where we didn’t make those unforced errors, and when we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, then we’re at a much higher level of play.”
The Panthers (8-7) didn’t enter the match with great expectations, having lost to the Royals (12-4) three times during the regular season.
But junior Jaylee Brown said Stuttgart gained belief during the first set. The Panthers ended up dropping it, but the 5-foot-8 opposite hitter said it was because they played not to lose instead of to win.
The mentality changed during the second set, and Stuttgart never looked back.
“We have had kind of a rough season, but it was like how we were supposed to be playing this whole season,” Brown said. “I feel like we finally unlocked our full potential.”
The Stuttgart coach also praised the setting of senior Berea Bryan for putting the ball on a platter for Brown and her teammates.
“Just our teamwork was so much better,” Trimble said. “We had people stepping up. (Brown) was phenomenal, just stepping up and putting balls down.”
Stuttgart’s win overshadowed what had been a perfect start by the Royals.
After recording a 25-16, 25-16 win over Lakenheath in the opener at Ramstein High School, Ramstein took on top-seeded Wiesbaden at Southside Fitness Center. There the Royals pulled off the upset 25-23, 20-25, 15-11.
The teams had split the season series, and the rubber match was expected to have semifinal-round implications, especially in terms of getting out of pool play in first place.
“This whole season, we knew they were our biggest competition,” Ramstein junior libero Emma Inthavixay said of Wiesbaden. “We’ve been fighting to beat them. This showed us we can do it.”
Quick starts were the theme for the Royals. In the first set, Ramstein produced the first five points. In the third set, the Royals rattled off the first eights points and enjoyed a 10-1 lead before the Warriors (16-2) made a surge.
“If it’s the opposite, it gets in your head, that you have to make up ground,” Ramstein coach Kandel Baxter said. “So, being ahead gives us a little cushion, but we knew Wiesbaden would keep fighting.”
Fight was on display by both squads, as many volleys lasted numerous blocks, digs and attacks before the ball found an open space on the floor.
“(Against Wiesbaden), we really fought,” Inthavixay said. “We were scrappy, we were trying to get every ball, and that was one of our goals before the game – to not let any ball touch the floor.”
The Warriors, meanwhile, recovered from the loss with 25-16, 25-19 win of their own against third-seeded Kaiserslautern (12-5) in their last match.
Wiesbaden didn’t let the loss get to it, according to senior Elizabeth Troxil.
“I think that we really came together as a team,” she said. “Even though we lost against Ramstein, I really don’t take that as a loss. We played the best that we could, and I’m really proud of our team.”
At the end of Thursday, five teams held 2-1 records: Ramstein, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern and seventh-seeded Vilseck, which produced victories over SHAPE and fourth-seeded Lakenheath.