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Members of the blue team celebrate after winning a point during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Members of the blue team celebrate after winning a point during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the blue team celebrate after winning a point during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Members of the blue team celebrate after winning a point during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Elisabeth Hendrix, a senior setter from Vilseck, digs out a serve during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Elisabeth Hendrix, a senior setter from Vilseck, digs out a serve during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Eslise Rasmussen, a junior middle hitter from Bitburg, spikes the ball against Adrianna Lovelace of Vicenza during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The game was an opportunity for the best junior and senior players from across DODDS schools in Europe to play at a high level against their peers one final time.

Eslise Rasmussen, a junior middle hitter from Bitburg, spikes the ball against Adrianna Lovelace of Vicenza during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The game was an opportunity for the best junior and senior players from across DODDS schools in Europe to play at a high level against their peers one final time. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Lillianna Estus, a junior outside hitter from Lakenheath, hits the ball over opponents during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Lillianna Estus, a junior outside hitter from Lakenheath, hits the ball over opponents during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Ashley Colon, a senior setter from Stuttgart, sets up a teammate during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Basel, Germany.

Ashley Colon, a senior setter from Stuttgart, sets up a teammate during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Basel, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Julia Smith, right, a junior outside hitter from Stuttgart, hits the ball over the net against challenges from Adrianna Lovelace, left, of Vicenza and Eliyah Tillman of Baumholder during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Julia Smith, right, a junior outside hitter from Stuttgart, hits the ball over the net against challenges from Adrianna Lovelace, left, of Vicenza and Eliyah Tillman of Baumholder during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Sierra Dye, a junior libero from Naples, prepares to hit a serve during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Sierra Dye, a junior libero from Naples, prepares to hit a serve during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Ellen Tafoya, a senior outside hitter from Wiesbaden, spikes the ball during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Ellen Tafoya, a senior outside hitter from Wiesbaden, spikes the ball during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

Janae Curtice, a senior outside hitter from Rota, spikes the ball during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Janae Curtice, a senior outside hitter from Rota, spikes the ball during the inaugural DODDS-Europe volleyball all star game Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN, Germany —The first-ever DODDS-Europe volleyball all-star game went to the final set to decide which of the two evenly-matched teams would be declared the winner.

But the result did not much matter in what was primarily a celebration of its participants’ efforts over the course of the season, as well as an opportunity for athletes from smaller schools to show what they can do against stiffer competition.

“Really it’s about getting to see these kids get to play at a high level and be together on the same court,” said Vilseck coach Brian Swenty, one of the coordinators of the event along with Ramstein coach Erin Markus.

“We picked the all-European teams, but that’s just a list, this is these kids in person, and you see the level of play just gets better and better as the day wore on. To see them all in one place, for some of them to finish their careers that way, was a great thing.”

The teams, only juniors and seniors, were chosen by coaches from across DODDS Europe, who could select up to three players from their programs. A committee divided the players into two teams, based on position, school, and height in an effort to level the playing field.

By the evidence on offer Saturday, they did a fine job.

For the players, being on the same court with their one-time rivals was a good learning experience and something they had looked forward to. “I personally thought that it was really cool to play against players that I watched (during the season) and as I watched them thought, ‘I want to play with those girls, I think it would be so cool,’” said Margo Snipe, a senior outside hitter from American Overseas School of Rome.

For players like Snipe, the game was a chance to show that they could excel against top players from the largest schools in Europe.

“There were a lot of good parts, but playing at a high level was my favorite,” she said. “Just playing makes me happy, but playing at a high level makes me really happy. And like I said, playing with the girls that I’ve looked up to was really fun.”

The game was the last in DODDS for many of its participants, and naturally much of the focus of the event was on the future. Markus said one of the highlights of the days that the athletes were together in advance of the game was an hour-plus Google hangout session with Katie Charles, a volleyball coach and recruiting advisor, who gave the athletes tips in navigating the college selection process.

Coming just a week after the championships, the atmosphere was remarkably relaxed and collegial.

“In the end we all respect each other, we love the sport,” said Shawn McCarthy, coach at Sigonella who acted as assistant coach to Stuttgart’s Mike Rubino on one of the teams. “It’s great to see kids who last week were playing against each other in the heat of battle, and here they’re all hugging and having a great time.”

Brittany Highley, a senior from Ramstein playing her final match on home turf, thought the event was a success.

“I loved it, every minute.”

Stoutamire.dan@stripes.com

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