The Fort Osage High School gymnasium was not a good place to be Thursday night for the faint of heart.
However, if you are a fan of gritty, in-your-face volleyball action, the Indians home court provided plenty of that. Coach Kelsey Carver’s young Grain Valley squad gave coach Vanessa Gage’s Fort Osage squad all it could handle.
But the Indians claimed a 26-24, 20-25, 25-22 victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
“What an amazing atmosphere,” Gage said, as Eagles fans filled the visitor’s side of the gym, complementing the vocal Indians fan base. “I think the kids from both teams fed off the crowd tonight, and what a great crowd!
“It was so exciting — we want to give our fans their money’s worth, and we sure did that tonight.”
The Indians trailed 23-19 in the first set, but roared back to claim the white-knuckle 26-24 win.
Carver’s squad, which features just one senior and a host of underclassmen, didn’t let the first-set loss affect them as they claimed the 25-20 win in the second game, setting up a classic third set.
Fort Osage rolled out to a 7-1 lead, only to watch the Eagles chisel away and eventually claim an 8-7 advantage.
There were 11 ties in the game, with the last one coming at 19-all late.
After that, Sydnee Summers served an ace to give the Indians a 21-20 lead and Kendra Siefker crushed two kills to send the Fort Osage fans home with smiles on their faces.
“I wanted us to win so badly,” said Siefker, who finished with a team-high 10 kills. “I felt like someone needed to take over on the front row, and I thought, ‘Why not me?’ It was so great to play a role in a big win like, in front of one of the best crowds we’ve ever had here.”
While she was disappointed in the outcome, Carver was thrilled with her team’s performance and hustle.
“If someone comes to watch my teams, I want them to go home saying, ‘Those girls work their butts off,' because they worked their butts off tonight,” Carver said. “And I can’t say enough good things about our fans coming over to Fort Osage to help create an amazing atmosphere. We can take a lot of positives home tonight.”
Grain Valley sophomore Olivia Williams, who had five kills in the third set, agreed with her coach.
“We’re so young, but we never gave up tonight,” Williams said. “We could have been so disappointed after that first loss, that we might not have worked hard in the second set — but we came out and worked even harder.
“We’re so young, but I think we’re going to have a lot of success this season.”