Naples gets revenge, third straight title
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Naples senior Victoria Krause couldn’t stop the tears from flowing Saturday after her Wildcats did the improbable by beating American Overseas School of Rome.
The 25-19, 25-16, 25-13 win gave Naples its third straight Division II DODDS Europe girls’ volleyball title.
“It was an amazing game,” Krause said, crying and laughing simultaneously. “We’re at our peak now and it’s perfect.”
AOSR may have owned the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record, but the Wildcats owned the tournament, arguably saving their best play for Saturday’s finals, decisively defeating a team that handed them their only losses of the year.
“I’m on Cloud Nine,” said Naples senior libero Carina Cusumano. “We wanted our revenge.”
After finishing third in last year’s tourney and a dismal 0-12 only five years ago, the Falcons were hoping to ride their stellar season all the way to the top.
“It’s disappointing,” said AOSR coach Abby Bielski. “We just couldn’t match Naples today. We did in the regular season. Naples has been on fire the entire tournament. We just didn’t live up to our potential today.”
Domiziana Mazzoni, a senior for the Falcons, said it wasn’t that Naples played better against them in the finals. “We weren’t the Falcons. We could have done way better.”
As they have all year, Mazzoni and sophomore Margo Snipe, both Division II all-tourney selections, landed some key kills and blocks in the match, but many of their hard hits were thwarted or returned by a Naples team that hustled on every play and made few mistakes.
The tone of the match was set early on when Naples jumped ahead 11-2, then 15-5, in the first set, forcing AOSR to play catch up, a position the Falcons found themselves in every set.
In the first game, the Falcons clawed their way back to close the gap but it was too little, too late. Mazzoni nailed a towering kill to bring the Falcons within five, 24-19, but Krause answered with a quick kill to give the Wildcats the first set and the momentum.
In the second set, the Falcons kept the Wildcats within striking distance. Mazzoni had a kill followed by two aces to nearly even the score, 14-13. But that was the closest the Falcons would get. AOSR lost a point on a call for lifting the ball and uncharacteristically let another ball fall to the middle of the court untouched. The Falcons were also called several times for being in the net.
For the Wildcats, Krause, an outside hitter, contributed key points in every set, finishing the match with five aces, 10 kills and six digs. She was named the Division II Most Valuable Player for the tourney. Krause had help from all corners of the court, with five of her teammates combining for 10 kills and eight aces.
They included: Cusumano with seven digs, one kill and two aces; senior outside hitter Amilia Espiet two kills, five digs and two aces; and middle hitter Aundrea Hall added two aces and three kills. Hall and Krause were named to the Division II all-tourney team.
“I am just so proud,” said Naples coach Julia Byler, “of who they are as individuals, their character, their passion.”
This year’s Naples team was particularly close, coaches and players said.
“It’s like a sisterhood, it’s ridiculous,” Krause said.
“We’re such a family. I love them all,” Cusumano said.
Rota topped Vicenza 31-29, 25-10 for third.