RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The Wiesbaden Warriors opened the 2013 girls volleyball season on a high note, winning the first set Saturday against the titans of Division I girls’ volleyball, the defending European champion Ramstein Royals.

But after the surprise victory, the Warriors fell flat, managing only three points in the second set before dropping the final two in the best-of-five match, falling 21-25, 25-3, 25-18, 25-12.

“They started well,” said Wiesbaden coach Linnea Velsvaag. “I don’t know what happened to them. They won the first game and I think they just got overconfident. That was painful.”

Wiesbaden, Ramstein and Baumholder played one another on the opening day of DODDS-Europe volleyball at the Southside Gym at Ramstein and the Royals went 2-0.

Nerves got the best of the Royals in the first set against Wiesbaden, said senior outside hitter Maeden Doan.

“We pulled together the next three sets and played the game we knew we could play,” she said.

For Ramstein, senior Jenna Kirchhoefer, a transfer from Colorado, shone in the second set while playing outside hitter. She recorded 14 kills against the Warriors over the four sets. Also of note was Natalie Sell with 19 digs; Maeden Doan with seven aces and five kills; Shannon Guffey with six kills and Karlijn Van Gaalen with 32 assists.

Ramstein won despite being without its star setter, Sarah Schiller, who sprained her ankle earlier in the week in practice and did not play.

Without Schiller, Ramstein coach Erin Markus said she made adjustments, trying players at different positions to see what combination worked best.

Whether Markus found the winning combination after that first loss against Wiesbaden, or whether the Warriors just lost focus, Wiesbaden pulled it together in its second match, knocking out a straight three-set win against a scrappy Division III Baumholder team. The Lady Bucs dug hard throughout, but lost 25-23, 25-16, 25-11.

Baumholder coach Jill Norris noted her team’s youth: Four of the team’s starting six were playing in their first ever volleyball game.

“I think they did a fantastic job,” she said. “We’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Playing Division I Ramstein “was great but it was very nerve wracking,” said Baumholder junior Alexis Graves, a middle blocker. The Royals won 25-7, 25-12, 25-5.

Norris singled out the play of freshman Kaylah Robinson. “She was very scrappy, chasing the ball down.”

The Warriors are also young, Velsvaag said, and she was encouraged by what she saw early on against Ramstein. They showed in that first set “what they’re capable of,” she said.

In the Ramstein match, sophomore Adriana Ibanez played well, Velsvaag said, also crediting the serving of Ellen Tafoya and MacKinley Bullock against Baumholder.

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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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