Coming into Tuesday’s contest against host Van Horn, the Fort Osage volleyball team needed to try something new after going through a four-match losing streak.
Rather than relying on making passes to the same spots every game, Indian setters Rachel Newberry and Ciera Cory mixed quick and long sets and passed the ball to different spots in the front row.
The change in strategy paid off and ended Fort Osage’s losing streak as it earned a 25-14, 25-14 victory.
Even with one of its primary hitters, Danielle Brockmeyer, out with a concussion, Fort Osage made up for it with several young players contributing kills and side-outs.
This season has been a far cry from their 2016 campaign, in which the Indians primarily relied on Allie Barrett for the bulk of their points. This year, younger players like freshman Kendra Siefker, sophomore Rachel Tharp, junior Ardaysia Fenner and freshman Aly Young have made sizeable contributions at the net.
“Last year, we felt like Allie was our one and only,” Fort Osage coach Vanessa Gage said. “This year we feel like we have a lot of different people who can contribute. Now whether or not they can all contribute on the same night is a different story.
“I feel like we had a total team effort today. Everyone contributed in their own way. We are trying to be less predictable like right high outside or running an easy one in the middle. We are trying to get away from that and have more of a variety to keep our opponents on their toes.”
That’s where Newberry and Cory came in, mixing up their sets.
“We’ve been working on it in practice, running tandems,” Cory said. “We are trying something different and trying to get better every day. We’ve been able to get the freshmen to run things that we haven’t the past couple of years.”
Fort Osage is now at 8-12-2 and already has more wins than it did last year with three regular season matches left, and a lot of that can be attributed to having more weapons on offense.
“This really hypes us up,” Young said. “Our team really team talks about bonding together and working as a team. This shows that our our hard work is paying off.
“We’ve been working on mixing it up. They really expected us to do the same thing as we’ve done in past years. We’re obviously showing we’re different this year.”
The Indians jumped out to a 20-11 lead in the first set and never looked back as they cruised to a win.
The Falcons (8-11-1), who were hurt by unforced errors in the first game, kept it close at the beginning of the second set, down just 7-5 early. But a pair of aces from Young and a kill from Fenner allowed Fort Osage to go on a 5-0 run.
Van Horn fought back to within one (13-12), but a 9-1 Indian run allowed the visitors to pull away comfortably.
“I thought we played well, but we still have some work to do,” Van Horn coach Nyala Bulock said. “We’re learning a new system and we are working on building up our confidence. We talked about cutting down on our errors in our huddles. They didn’t some of those points. We gave them away.”