The season-opening volleyball match between visiting Fort Osage and the host Truman Patriots provided one of those rare opportunities when both coaches left the court feeling good about their team – especially the Indians’ Sean Barrett.

The season-opening volleyball match between visiting Fort Osage and the host Truman Patriots provided one of those rare opportunities when both coaches left the court feeling good about their team – especially the Indians’ Sean Barrett.

“My first season-opening win ever,” said Barrett, as the Indians claimed a 25-17, 25-19 victory over a young, but enthusiastic Patriot squad Monday night.

“The difference for us was our serve/return game, which was just outstanding,” he said. “How many times were we aced?”

The answer: A lowly two times.

“See what I mean?” he continued. “There was some good communication out there on the court, and it resulted in a big win for the girls. Gosh, it’s nice to start the season with a win.

“I’ve never been able to say that before.”

Truman coach Denise Craig wasn’t sure what to expect from a team that has just two players with varsity experience.

“Are we light-years better than the team you saw this summer (in the Lee’s Summit North Summer League)?” Craig asked. “I am really pleased. Look, we’re going to take it on the chin sometimes during the season, but overall, I am so pleased.

“Sean’s kids always play so hard, and I thought our kids played hard, too. Did we make some mistakes? Sure, but it’s early in the season, and every mistake can be corrected.”
Fort Osage led 22-11 in the first game when the Patriots made a nice rush to cut their deficit to 23-17.

But the more experienced Indians squad never panicked and held on for the victory.

After some on-court confusion that took nearly as long to sort out as it took the Indians to win the first game, Truman’s Liz Punipuao helped the Patriots take a 4-1 lead with three kills in Game 2.

“Liz and my libero (Dom Madrueno) have a lot of experience,” Craig said. “Unfortunately for us, they are both seniors and Liz just moved to Truman (from East High School in Kansas City), so we’re only going to have her one year.

“But we’re sure going to make the most of having her around.”

The Indians soon took control, and sophomore middle hitter Asia Cole put a dent in the Patriots court with monster kill to end the game. Cole finished with six kills.

Punipuao led the Patriots with five kills, two blocks and had an ace in her first action as a Patriot.

“I love playing on this team and am happy we moved to the Truman school district,” Punipuao said. “The girls are young, but they love to play volleyball and I think we were better tonight than a lot of people thought we would be.”

Barrett didn’t expect a cake-walk at Truman, despite his opponent’s inexperience.
“No coach gets her kids fired up more than Denise,” Barrett said. “To come over here and get a win is pretty special for our kids.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Schweer agreed with her coach.

“I thought we did a real good job talking with each other out on the court, and we made some nice plays because of that,” she said.

“Coach just told us this is the first time he has won his opening match, and I’m proud to be a part of that. All the girls are. This is an exciting way to start our season.”