MANNHEIM, Germany — The European volleyball championships are back under one roof.

For the first time in three years, all three divisions of the Department of Defense Dependent Schools tournament will be held at the same venue — the Benjamin Franklin Sports Arena, in Mannheim. Some games will also be played at nearby Sullivan gym.

There are 21 teams competing for the three division titles. The competition starts at 11 a.m. Thursday, when Division I and Division II matches get under way. The smaller Division III teams, which held their tournament at a different venue the past two years, will start its competition at 9 a.m. Friday.

Championship games for Divisions II and III are scheduled for the Sports Arena at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Division I is set for 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for students and are good for any, and all, three days of the tournament.

Here’s a division-by-division breakdown of the tournament:

Division III

Unlike the big schools, the six Division III finalists had to play their way into the Europeans, either by winning a regular-season crown or by qualifying in regional tournaments.

Heading the field is defending European and III-North regular-season and regional champion London Central, which reloaded nicely around DODDS-Europe female athlete of the year Nicki Lassetter.

The Lady Bobcats’ stiffest competition figures to be undefeated Italy and Mediterranean Regional champion Aviano, or Division III-South champion Baumholder. Alconbury, Naples and Hohenfels round out the field.

“We’re very excited about having the chance to defend our title,” London Central coach Susan Payne said. “We started the season at a camp in Aviano, so we know they’re tough. We’ve just got to go out and take care of business.”

Aviano coach Hans Hillestad’s Lady Saints also roll into the tournament, having run roughshod through a talented Med field in Vicenza last week.

“It was fantastic,” said Hillestad. “We’re good, and we’re having a good time.”

Things might get even better. Hillestad said star player Alexa Wan is returning from a nagging sprained ankle that has sidelined her all season.

“She’s still in braces and can’t jump yet,” Hillestad said, “but she can play defense for us.”

Baumholder’s Mike Reilly lost his anchor from last year, All-Europe ace Katie Feterl, but has found a textbook replacement for her.

“We’ve got great chemistry,” he said. “We don’t overpower anyone, but we keep the ball alive and try to take advantage of any mistakes.

“We know London Central is strong, but we think the tournament is up for grabs.”

Division II

For the past four years, Black Forest Academy has dominated the Division II tournament, but the field’s wide open this year, according to Black Forest coach Pat Woodward.

“We’ve been up and down,” Woodward said. “[Unbeaten] Bitburg’s no doubt the clear favorite, but there are a lot of good teams — Patch, SHAPE, with Courtney Smith, and Vilseck. They’ve really improved since last year.”

Bitburg coach Dick McWilliams brings a strong-team to the eight-team tourney.

The Lady Barons are led by 6-foot-2 Nadia Parker, who will get a lot of help from newcomers Bethany Poese and Amanda Bussmeyer. Team captain Ashley Gardner provides leadership and quality sets.

“It has been a complete team effort this year,” McWilliams said.

Division I

“We’re looking for a really good tournament,” said John Sullivan, coach of the defending Division I champ Würzburg. “Ramstein, Heidelberg, Frankfurt International School and us are really close in ability level.”

Sullivan’s Lady Wolves go into the tournament as the favorites.

Last year, Sullivan’s squad slipped in under the radar and bounced heavy favorite Heidelberg for the title.

Würzburg has gone 11-1 this season, and players Jennifer Velez, Tiffany Numelka and Jessica Branch hope they can keep it going.

“The girls have had a successful season,” Sullivan said.

But he added, “this tournament’s up for grabs.”

European championship tournament seedings

Division I

1. Würzburg; 2. Ramstein; 3. Heidelberg; 4. Frankfurt International School; 5. Wiesbaden; 6. Lakenheath; 7. Kaiserslautern.

Division II

1. Bitburg; 2. Patch; 3. Vilseck; 4. SHAPE; 5. Hanau; 6. AFNORTH; 7. Black Forest Academy; 8. Mannheim.

Division III

Seeded by draw. Teams participating are Alconbury, Aviano, Baumholder, Hohenfels, London Central and Naples.


Division III-Mediterranean Regional tournament

VICENZA, Italy — Results of the boys and girls high school regionals on Saturday.



American Overseas School of Rome def. Marymount 25-13, 25-17


Aviano def. Naples 25-12, 30-28, 25-16

All-Conference Team

Sofia Bertolli (Marymount), Lauren Blount (Sigonella), Ebony Cunningham (Naples), Tamara Djurdjevik (AOSR), Patricia Faraci (Milan), Kristin Grese (Vicenza), Erin Hassan (Aviano), Denise Hill (Naples), Bree Mariz (Aviano), Ashley Meed (Aviano)

All-Tournament Team

Meed (MVP), Hill, Djurdjevik, Hassan, Mariz, Renna Damon (Nap), Ashlee Purpura (Avi), Vanessa Avapiades (AOSR)



Milan def. Naples 25-20, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15; American Overseas School of Rome def. Aviano 25-23, 25-14, 25-13.


Aviano def. Naples 25-19, 25-19


AOSR def. Milan 25-18, 24-26, 25-16, 25-22

All-Conference Team

Pablico Aniel (Naples), Francisco Buscaini (Milan), Ryan Chase (Vicenza), Nick Dickinson (Naples), Eduardo Linari (AOSR), Josh Mendoza (Sigonella), Seyi Smith (AOSR), Alberto Treglia (Milan), Jason Viray (Aviano)

All-Tournament Team

Smith (MVP), Treglia, Chase, Buscaini, Aniel, Viray, Winn McEnery (Avi), Paolo Murmura (AOSR)

Division III-North Regional

RAF ALCONBURY, England — Championship game of the regional tournament Saturday.

London Central def. Alconbury 25-15, 25-7, 25-11

Noteworthy—Defending European Division III champion London Central and Alconbury advance to the 2003 European Division III tournament Friday and Saturday at Mannheim, Germany.

All-Tournament team

Nicki Lassetter, MVP, (London Central), Mary Beth Tittle (LC), Meagan Archer (Alconbury), Caitlin Laingen (Alc), Zaronda Watson (Brussels), Stormie Batten (Iceland), Chelsea Denesha (Lajes), Ana Richter (Rota).

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