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(View or download the PDF version of the print edition page, with photos of the top players, here.)

As a collection of skilled players, the 2005 All-Europe girls high school volleyball team can’t be beat. As a living, breathing team, it has a few holes, according to someone who should know.

“It’s a good team, very strong,” said Cynthia Sebastian, coach of the European Division I champion Ramstein Lady Royals and one of the five coaches who selected the squad, “but it would have been nice to see some defensive people in there.”

Eight hitters and four setters were selected to the 12-player first team, two-thirds of them seniors and seven from Division I teams.

None, however, was a defensive specialist or played the defensive libero position used by DODDS for the first time last season.

“If we were to form a true team to take back to the States to play [Amateur Athletic Union matches],” Sebastian went on, “this wouldn’t be a balanced team. We wouldn’t have anyone to play defense, and defense is the key to everything.”

The 2005 All-Europe team, selected by a five-person panel, does have plenty of power, however. Returning first-teamers Natasha Holan of Heidelberg and Kasy’e Lalau of Patch, both outside hitters, put away a total of 460 kills last season.

Holan, a senior, compiled a .313 hitting percentage during her 208-kill regular season; she had 62 more kills out of 139 chances in the European Division I tournament. Lalau, a junior, elevated her .271 regular-season hitting percentage to .283 at Europeans. For the season, she racked up 190 kills.

Even though there was no groundswell of support for the defense, Pam Hillestad of Aviano, another selector and coach of the European Division II champion, said there was a strong consensus about the top 12 players in Europe, but she also emphasized that the voting criteria mandated no particular structure for the team.

“We just looked at the 12 best athletes,” she said. “Sometimes we come up with two setters, sometimes four. It depends on the talent.”

The only numbers game, she said, was to make sure that the most valuable players of all four European tournaments — Divisions I, II, III and IV — were thoroughly discussed. All four of them in 2005, Ramstein junior Jayci Cachuela in D-1, Aviano senior Jessica Corder in D-2, Baumholder senior Kandice Dyer in D-3 and Alconbury senior Aja Brown in D-4, made All-Europe.

Dyer and Brown, though, were the only small-schools players to make the top 12 this year.

“I wish there were more D-3 and D-4 players on the team,” said London Central coach and selector Susan Payne of London Central, “but they weren’t nominated by their coaches.”

But she said she likes what she sees of the 2005 squad.

“Overall, it was a strong year for volleyball,” she said. “The team is extremely deep. It reflects the increasing participation in the sport.”

2005 All-Europe high school girls volleyball team

First team

Player School Position Class Stats/Comments

Aja Brown Alconbury Setter Sr. Team MVP for D-4 champs

Jayci Cachuela Ramstein Setter Jr. 172 setting assists, 24 aces

Jessica Corder Aviano Outside hitter Sr. 41 blks, school rec. 222 kills

Kandice Dyer Baumholder Outside hitter Sr. D-3 tourney MVP

Regina Fleming Ramstein Outside hitter Jr. 148 kills, 58 aces

Heather Hall Patch Setter Sr. 167 assists, 87% server

Natasha Holan Heidelberg Outside hitter Sr. 208 kills, 92% server

Kasy’e Lalau Patch Outside hitter Jr. 190 kils, 89% server

Melissa Meyer Frankfurt Int. Setter So. 158 assts, 45 kills, 45 aces

Julia Roberson Heidelberg Outside hitter Sr. 103 kills, 91% server

Rachel Rust Ramstein Middle hitter Sr. 56 kills, 30 aces

Haley Weddle Frankfurt Int. Middle hitter Sr. 214 kills, 96% server

Second team

Kelsey Anderson Naples Setter Jr. 86 kills, 195 assts

Kyri Bye-Nagel Hanau Outside hitter Sr. Leader in 1st try at sport

Renna Damon Naples Outside hitter Sr. 74 kills, 40 assts

Kristine Fernandez Alconbury Outside hitter Sr. Team leader

Micana Gallaway London Cent. Outside hitter Sr. 7.5 kills, 5 digs/match

Brittany Harris Wiesbaden Outside hitter Sr. 34 digs, 19 kills at tourney

Meredith Holladay Black Forest Outside hitter Sr. 97 digs, 52 aces, 92 kills

Lindsey Jackson Aviano Setter Jr. 129 assts, 95% server

Ashley Mansfield Lakenheath Outside hitter Sr. 133 kills, 67 digs, 55 aces

Alania McKinnis Vilseck Middle hitter Jr. 82% serves, 76% hits

Aisha Shapiro Rota Setter Sr. True team leader

Megan Woodward Black Forest Outside hitter Sr. 70 aces, 34 blks, 149 kills

All-Europe selection panel: Rich Bennett, Heidelberg; Pam Hillestad, Aviano; Susan Payne, London Central; Cynthia Sebastian, Ramstein; Tim Smith, Hanau.

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