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SHAPE volleyball players congratulate Bitburg's team on their victory after a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

SHAPE volleyball players congratulate Bitburg's team on their victory after a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

SHAPE volleyball players congratulate Bitburg's team on their victory after a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

SHAPE volleyball players congratulate Bitburg's team on their victory after a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

SHAPE's Megan Vanheuklom spikes the ball against Bitburg's Kaitlyn Fleming during a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

SHAPE's Megan Vanheuklom spikes the ball against Bitburg's Kaitlyn Fleming during a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

SHAPE volleyball players celebrate after winning two games in a row against Bitburg during a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Bitburg eventually pulled-out a victory.

SHAPE volleyball players celebrate after winning two games in a row against Bitburg during a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Bitburg eventually pulled-out a victory. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

SHAPE's Mini Teekantonr and Megan Vanheuklom defend against Bitburg's  Hannah Bissonnette during a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

SHAPE's Mini Teekantonr and Megan Vanheuklom defend against Bitburg's Hannah Bissonnette during a game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

Bitburg's Keilani Swartzmiller serves the ball during a game against SHAPE at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. She had six aces in the five-game series.

Bitburg's Keilani Swartzmiller serves the ball during a game against SHAPE at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. She had six aces in the five-game series. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

Bitburg coach Eric Vining talks strategy with his players during a timeout in a game against SHAPE at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. The Lady Barons earned a victory with a close win in the fifth game.

Bitburg coach Eric Vining talks strategy with his players during a timeout in a game against SHAPE at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. The Lady Barons earned a victory with a close win in the fifth game. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

Bitburg's Elise Rasmussen spikes the ball against SHAPE defender Katherine Dytholm during a volleyball game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Rasmussen led the Lady Barons to victory with 16 kills.

Bitburg's Elise Rasmussen spikes the ball against SHAPE defender Katherine Dytholm during a volleyball game at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Rasmussen led the Lady Barons to victory with 16 kills. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

SHAPE volleyball player Mini Teekantonr serves the ball during a game against the Bitburg Lady Barons at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. SHAPE suffered close back-to-back defeats.

SHAPE volleyball player Mini Teekantonr serves the ball during a game against the Bitburg Lady Barons at RAF Lakenheath, England, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. SHAPE suffered close back-to-back defeats. (William Howard/Stars and Stripes)

RAF LAKENHEATH, England ― There have been all sorts of chants issued over the years by various high school teams clashing in the base gymnasium.

Saturday might have seen the first one sung in Polish.

Unfortunately the cheer, taught to SHAPE volleyball players by teammate Ahia Kupusta, wasn’t enough as the Spartans suffered two close back-to-back defeats against Lakenheath and Bitburg. That included a 29-27, 25-18, 16-25, 25-27, 15-13 loss to the Barons.

It looked grim early for SHAPE as the Barons won the first two games under leadership from team captain Elise Rasmussen, who scored 16 kills during the contest.

Rasmussen is a two-time all-Europe volleyball player and last year earned DODEA-Europe female Athlete of the Year honors.

A sudden two-game comeback brought SHAPE close to winning against Bitburg in a nail-biting fifth game, but the Spartans fell just short.

Barons such as Keilani Swartzmiller - with six aces - and Triana Hampton -with five kills and five aces - were invaluable in clinching a close victory.

Bitburg Coach Eric Vining said he has high hopes for the season.

“They had some bad plays but they fought through it and came together as a team,” Vining said. “We played pretty well today and I think we have a good chance to get back to the championship game and hopefully win it this year.”

howard.william@stripes.com


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