BFA tops four-team volleyball meeting
By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 15, 2016
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — The teams all started with ‘B’ at a four-school volleyball gathering Saturday, but two of them brought their ‘A’ games.
Black Forest Academy and Brussels outperformed Bitburg and Baumholder, with the Falcons outgunning the Brigands in straight sets, 25-14, 25-18, 25-6 in the tournament’s final match.
That match was the tournament’s de facto title game, with both BFA and Brussels going in 1-0 on the day up to that point.
The Falcons showed depth and talent and look like they are more than capable of a deep Division II European run, though due partly to a scheduling quirk, they still don’t have a victory at that level this season. BFA’s only D-II match so far was a loss to AFNORTH.
BFA captain Erin Fortune, in particular, was impressive, dominating the net on both offense and defense. She was ably assisted by teammates Jesse Campbell, Leah Kennedy and Kendra Jolley in a relatively deep rotation.
Jolley got 10 aces against Brussels, playing up from Division III.
“We’re very happy, especially since we’ve mostly been playing Division I schools this season, so it’s fun to actually play a different kind of level and play well,” Fortune said after the final game. “We didn’t play down and we played well - we’re proud of how we played.”
Host Bitburg, the other Division II school in the event and celebrating its homecoming, split two games, overcoming Baumholder with relative ease in three sets, 25-13, 25-22, 25-19 before playing an epic second match against Brussels later in the day.
That match went the full five sets, with Brussels winning each of the first two sets narrowly 25-23 before Bitburg responded behind captain Elise Rasmussen and outside hitter Triana Hampton to win the next two 25-11 and 25-19. In the decisive fifth set, Brussels recovered to win 15-13.
Starting strong and falling off later is familiar trend for Brussels, junior setter Juliette Mobley said. Mobley had 16 assists, four aces and two kills against the Barons.
“We’ve done it before – it’s kind of a pattern that we have of getting down and into our heads, but we really just have to focus on coming together and working as a team, talking,” she said.
In addition to Mobley, the trio of Gloria Hernandez, Evin Harper and Caitlin McCollom stood out for the Brigands, who will look to build on this for a strong European run in November.
“(We) definitely want to keep up the momentum and stay hyped up and having fun,” Mobley said.
While Bitburg didn’t have the depth of Brussels, with only a couple available substitutes who came over only after the completion of the junior varsity games, the starting six used their familiarity with each other to their advantage.
“Today, especially we’ve been very good at communication and making sure that we have a three-second memory and don’t let things get to us,” Rasmussen said. “I think we did a really good job and I think that game specifically (against Brussels) helped us for Europeans – it just shows that we kind of have a slow start so we can work on that.”
Division III Baumholder went 0-2 on the day but the young squad showed signs of improving as the day went on, pushing BFA to a fourth set.
Despite losing both matches, Bucs player Eliyah Tillman took some consolation in her team’s execution, but said there is work to do on the mental side of the game.
“Passing, definitely, is something we did well, and movement our first game also,” she said. “But what we do need to work on is talking and our communication.”
Hannah Bissonnette of Bitburg spikes the ball against Baumholder during the third and final set of their match Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Bitburg defeated Baumholder in straight sets before falling to Brussels in a hard-fought match that went to five sets.
DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES