Truman’s hopes for a third straight district volleyball crown were dashed in heartbreaking fashion Wednesday.

Truman’s hopes for a third straight district volleyball crown were dashed in heartbreaking fashion Wednesday.
After beating Fort Osage in the Class 4 District 15 semifinals Wednesday, the Patriots fell 22-25, 25-23, 29-27 to North Kansas City in a hard-fought championship match.
“It’s heartbreaking, but the match was so much fun,” Truman coach Denise Craig said. “I was sitting on the bench and told my assistant coaches that this was one of the funnest matches I’ve ever been involved with or ever coached.
“It’s crushing, but one of us had to lose. If they had lost, it would have been just as crushing (for them).”
The Patriots were in command in the third game, up 20-16, when Lindsey Steele appeared to throw down a kill to give the Patriots a 21-16 lead and a huge amount of momentum.
However, the referees ruled that the Patriots (19-14-2) served out of turn, took the point away and gave the ball and the point to the Hornets, making the score 20-17.
“That killed us,” Craig said. “That’s two points. We gave them the point and we lost the serve.”
However, middle hitter Kassidy Ritchel – who had 13 kills in the final – said the Patriots should have still been able to overcome that mistake and win the match.
“We can’t blame it on that,” she said. “We should have done a lot of things better.”
After the error, a Taryn Nash kill put Truman back up 21-17, but three straight Truman errors brought North Kansas City within a point.
The Hornets took a 24-23 lead before the teams took turns exchanging wild match point after wild match point. Then a Katie Manning shot down the line won the match – and the district title – for the Hornets.
The Patriots had trouble covering Northtown’s attack for much of the game.
“They kept us off balance,” Truman libero Kathryn Ruddy said. “That last play, I was covering a hole instead of the line. They saw the holes and hit them.”
Ruddy’s heroics in the first game appeared to have Truman in the driver’s seat for the title.
With the Patriots trailing 22-19 in the first game, Ruddy – who finished with 17 digs in the final – stepped to the line to serve and notched three straight aces to tie the match. She later had two key digs to keep Truman rallies alive as the Patriots scored six straight points to win the game.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Ruddy said of her aces. “I had been having problems with my serve. I just went back, took a deep breath, and said to myself, ‘This is when your team needs you.’
“These are the games you live for. This was the most intense match I have ever played. It was a tough game. It was so close. Everyone gave 100 percent. It’s hard to ask anything more. It’s tough, because I’m close to the seniors, and I hate seeing them leave.”
The emotion of the players, crowd and bench seemed to sway with every point as the match went on.
Part of the emotion was frustration at trying to get the ball past the North Kansas City defense, which seemed to get a hand on almost every ball the Patriots hit at the Hornets.
“Their libero was, like, crazy,” Ritchel said. “She was picking up everything. They were pretty tough.”
While Craig was sad her team could not get another title, she said she couldn’t be disappointed in the way the Patriots played.
“It was so back-and-forth,” she said. “It was just a great final game. The teams were just so evenly matched.”
TRUMAN 25-25, FORT OSAGE 15-16: A pair of strong starts helped Truman move on to the finals Wednesday, knocking off rival Fort Osage.
The Patriots jumped out to identical 13-4 leads in each game, before holding on for the win.
The loss ended Fort Osage’s season at 5-22-2.
“Most of it was our errors,” Indians senior Laina Talimatasi said. “Volleyball is a game of momentum. We shot ourselves in the foot, then got the momentum started again.”
Despite falling behind early, the Indians were able to fight back and force Truman into some late errors and late timeouts to make sure the match didn’t get away.
“We knew what we were up against,” Fort Osage sophomore Elaine McAlister said. “We tried our best and fought hard.”
Despite the tough record, Indians coach Sean Barrett said it was an enjoyable season with his young team.
“We played well (Tuesday) against Chrisman, who had four seniors,” he said. “We have one senior, three sophomores and a freshman. We’re so young. This was just a great group. I enjoyed every minute. I told them when you’re 5-22, there’s usually drama and controversy. We had none. It was so nice.”