Big foe or small foe: Sigonella beating most of them
By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 21, 2016
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – The Sigonella Jaguars are used to being the underdog – at least in terms of enrollment – when they play any sport in Italy.
Playing a mix of Division I and Division II competition, the Division III school got off to an 8-2 start in DODEA-Europe play this season.
This weekend, though, the Jaguars get a rare chance to play schools closer their size as Hohenfels and Ansbach crossed the Alps for Friday and Saturday contests.
“This is the first time in a long time we’ve played a Division III team during the regular season,” coach Shawn McCarthy said Friday night after his team had little trouble defeating the Tigers 25-12, 25-16, 25-12. “It’s good. It does take a little mystique away from the tournament, though, when you walk in and haven’t seen anybody.”
If the Jaguars are able to handle the Cougars on Saturday, they’ll have to leave the underdog tag in Italy when they visit Germany for the European championships Nov. 3-5.
The Jaguars could be the only one of the six teams in the D-III portion of the event that sports an overall winning record when play begins.
Alconbury entered the weekend 5-0 to lead the division but had lost all five of its contests against larger schools. Ansbach, Baumholder, Brussels and Hohenfels all entered Friday with overall records below .500.
The Tigers began the season as a Division II school but were dropped to Division III recently. DODEA-Europe Athletic Director Karen Seadore confirmed Friday night that the Tigers will play at Division III in all sports this year except for football. DODEA-Europe has only two divisions for football.
Dropping down might not be enough to give the Tigers a good shot at a title in volleyball this year, though. They’ve lost two of three matches against Ansbach and trailed Friday almost the whole way after a 6-6 tie in the opening set.
“We’ve just got to learn to play together as a team,” coach Chris Peuleke said. “I saw some individual play that I liked tonight, but …”
Sigonella might not intimidate many teams in warmups. But McCarthy said a recent push to try to get more aggressive paid off Friday. Senior Kisiah Chandler moved from setting to hitting, joining classmate Korley Jones to give the Jaguars some more punch.
“We’re trying to cut back on the rallies and increase the kills,” McCarthy said.
Jones had nine kills and Chandler five. Each also had a few aces from the service line. Setter Isabel Dillon had 22 assists.
Aviano and Ansbach enter the action on Saturday.