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The Naples Lady Wildcats celebrate their Division II title after defeating AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday.
The Naples Lady Wildcats celebrate their Division II title after defeating AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The Naples Lady Wildcats celebrate their Division II title after defeating AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday.
The Naples Lady Wildcats celebrate their Division II title after defeating AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Isabel Krause of Naples, right, gets the ball over the defense of AFNORTH's Selin Gencer.  Naples beat AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 for the Division II title at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday.
Isabel Krause of Naples, right, gets the ball over the defense of AFNORTH's Selin Gencer. Naples beat AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 for the Division II title at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
AFNORTH's Sara Sawyer, right, blocks against Isabel Krause of Naples in the Division II final at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals. Naples won 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 to take the title.
AFNORTH's Sara Sawyer, right, blocks against Isabel Krause of Naples in the Division II final at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals. Naples won 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 to take the title. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Kaite Waller of Naples, right, sets the ball for a teammate as AFNORTH's Sara Sawyer defends. Naples beat AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 for the Division II title at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday.
Kaite Waller of Naples, right, sets the ball for a teammate as AFNORTH's Sara Sawyer defends. Naples beat AFNORTH 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 for the Division II title at the DODDS-Europe volleyball finals in Ramstein on Saturday. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Lady Wildcats will finally get their banner.

Naples capped a remarkable one-loss season with a sweep of AFNORTH on Saturday in the European Division II volleyball championships, winning three straight sets in dominant fashion, 25-14, 25-12 and 25-13.

The victory earned the team its first ever European crown in the sport, according to senior co-captains, Courtney Plante and Jackie Lund.

“We don’t have a banner,” Plante said, referring to the tradition of hanging a team banner in the school gym after bringing home a European championship.

The Lady Wildcats, whose only loss came during a split with Aviano in the regular season, will have one now.

They kept AFNORTH off their game from the outset, building big early leads that proved too much to overcome for the scrappy Lions, who beat Bitburg late Friday in a grueling, four-set semifinal.

“It wasn’t our day,” AFNORTH coach Kevin Padron said, giving due credit to Naples. “Every one of their players is fantastic.”

“All of them had their best today,” Naples coach Julia Byler said of her athletes, highlighting the play of Plante and Lund. “They were all over the court.”

Lund and sophomore Victoria Krause each registered eight kills. Plant had five digs, while senior Shannon Walsh recorded six digs and three aces. Junior Isabel Krause had six kills and two blocks.

To celebrate, the Lady Wildcats planned to feast on junk food, Plante and Lund said.

AFNORTH senior Sara Sawyer, who helped engineer a couple of late-point rallies for AFNORTH with strong play at the net, said Saturday’s loss was a bittersweet end to a memorable season.

“We worked so hard to get here,” she said.

AFNORTH was making its first appearance in the European championship tournament finals since 1989, Padron said.

svanj@estripes.osd.mil

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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