Stuttgart tops Ramstein in unbeaten Euro championship

by Thomas Warner contributing writer

Ramstein’s Masaya Archbold rises at the net and Paige Nielsen (9) waits as teammate Adelina Bonilla positions for a dig against Stuttgart in the championship match. — Photos by Evan Willingham

RHS squad (from left) Gisele Stake, Shemilia Johnson, Paige Nielsen, Morgan Gabriel, Sydney Gabriel, Isabella Coddington, Lydia Coddington, Elizabeth Connolly, Adelina Bonilla, Jaya Worthington, Masaya Archbold, Ahmarie Young. Not pictured: Jaedyn Kaufman and Tamiya Bruce.

The DODEA volleyball season wound down to its final match and things were just as most people expected they would be, with Ramstein taking on Stuttgart for the Division I championship. Both teams were undefeated and Ramstein was turned back in its bid for a title as the Lady Panthers capped their own undefeated campaign by winning 25-23, 25-18, 25-10.

In defeat at the very end, Lydia Coddington had 13 digs in the finale, to go with nine kills and four blocks by Masaya Archbold. Paige Nielsen contributed eight digs and five kills in a balanced effort by everyone wearing the Ramstein blue.

Ramstein (17-1) had a 12-0 regular season before cruising through five matches at the Europeans tournament without ever giving up a set loss. In straight-set victories, the Lady Royals topped Naples, Vicenza, Kaiserslautern, SHAPE, and Wiesbaden to finally earn a shot at Stuttgart. A first place trophy did not materialize but it was a positive season nonetheless.

“Unfortunately the championship game didn’t have the outcome we wanted but the girls fought their way through the entire tournament and season,” said head coach Ashley Mell Henriques, who guided RHS along with assistant Angela McClaskey. “This season, they have put in the time and dedication and we are ending our 2018 season with a great team and a very proud coach.”

Archbold and Isabella Coddington were named to the All-Europeans first team and the tournament itself was played in front of packed crowds at the new Kaiserslautern High gymnasium and other scattered venues in the KMC area. Ramstein has several players who will return and make the program one to likely watch again for high honors in 2019.

Ramstein had not played Stuttgart in the regular season but was quite familiar with the recent prowess of the Lady Panthers’ program. Stuttgart won DODEA championships in 2015 and 2016, then made it to the finals again last season before falling to Lakenheath. It turned out to be a victory party for SHS but handshakes and congrats were handed out by both squads as sportsmanship ruled the day.