VolleyballPatch at Wiesbaden Saturday Every team in DODDS-Europe volleyball has an identity. The Ramstein Royals are the defending champions. The Lakenheath Lancers are the spurned runner-up. The Vilseck Falcons are the scrappy upset specialist. The Naples Wildcats are the championship-tested interlopers. So where does that leave the Wiesbaden Warriors? According to the standings, they’re the best team in Division I. Wiesbaden is the last unbeaten team standing in a newly robust division that now includes a full 10 teams. Though geography has prevented them from playing all of their divisional foes, they’ve beaten the above-mentioned Royals and Falcons in convincing fashion. Only one team, in fact, has given the Warriors a hard time: the Patch Panthers. Patch lost a lot of talent from the team that was squeezed out of a title shot by a quirky three-way tiebreaker last fall. But the new and returning Panthers have been up to the challenge. Patch enters the weekend at 10-1. Its only loss? To Wiesbaden on Oct. 4, in five sets: 25-23, 24-26, 19-25, 25-15, 15-12. It’s safe to say this weekend’s rematch will be worth paying attention to. And if things hold, so will next weekend’s.Marymount, Aviano at Vicenza Saturday The destinies of the Aviano Saints and Vicenza Cougars are almost always intertwined. That’s been the case again this year; the two teams have already met four times this fall. But after Saturday, their paths will diverge. Aviano will enter the Division II European tournament next week as one of its primary contenders. The Saints are 9-5 entering the weekend, a mark that includes two season-opening wins over Vicenza and another over Naples. Vicenza, meanwhile, was promoted to Division I early this fall and will enter the large-school tournament as a decided underdog. Though rival Naples will join them at the higher level, Vicenza’s frequent encounters with neighbor Aviano will no longer carry divisional ramifications. But that doesn’t mean they’re meaningless. Aviano’s momentum was stalled by two losses to Vicenza; winning the season series against Vicenza would help the Saints’ confidence entering the postseason. A loss to lower-division Aviano, or Marymount for that matter, would be equally damaging to the Cougars’ psyche as they take their first steps into the Division I fray.

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