Both coaches anticipated a dramatic Class 4 District 14 contest between U.S. 24 rivals Fort Osage and William Chrisman Monday night at Truman High School.
And that’s exactly what they got as the Indians managed to claim a two-set win with a 25-12, 30-28 victory over the never-say-die Bears.
That sets the stage for a 6:30 p.m. semifinal meeting tonight between the Indians and Blue Springs South.
“We played them close in the regular season and I expected it to be close again tonight,” Fort Osage coach Vanessa Gage said of the Bears after her Indians improved to 20-10-1, which is believed to be one of the best records in school history.
The turning point of the second set came when libero Kaitlyn Williams somehow managed to make a twisting, turning return of a ball near the back row and settle it just inside the back line for the 29th point in the second set. The Indians won it on their next serve.
“It was an edge-of-your-seat moment,” explained Williams. “I had a lot of belief in myself, and when I hit it, I was hoping it would stay inbounds – and it did, barely.”
Williams’ teammate, outside hitter Rachel Tharp, who had five kills, nodded in agreement.
“When Kaitlyn got that ball inbounds, it was the turning point,” Tharp said. “We knew we were going to win that second set. It gave us all the momentum we needed for the win.”
A grinning Gage added: “I saw it and just held my breath!”
Chrisman coach Mary Lile was disappointed after the loss, but was proud of her 10-15 team.
“We fought hard to come back in that second set,” Lile said, “but we made too many unforced errors. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times tonight, but we did play hard and never gave up.”
BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH 25-25, VAN HORN 10-13: Blue Springs South aced its first match in the Class 4 District 14 volleyball tournament at Truman as Carsen Murray collected five aces from the back row and Aubrey LaPour dominated the front row with nine kills.
South (13-18) meets Fort Osage in a semifinal at 6:30 p.m. today at Truman.
“I take a lot of pride in my serving and work a lot on it in practice,” said Murray, a 6-foot-1 middle hitter. “... It’s a good way to start a nice run and get control of a match.”
South coach Mallori Perry was thrilled to see her team rebound in such dramatic fashion following a tough regular-season loss to crosstown rival Blue Springs.
“This is a match our girls needed,” Perry said. “To come out and play like this gives everyone a lot of confidence, and we needed some confidence after that loss at Blue Springs last week.
“The best thing about tonight – other than winning – is that we got the chance to play a lot of our younger players. We had five freshmen out there tonight and that’s going to play a role in our success next season because they will have some experience at the varsity level.”
Van Horn wraps up a 15-14-1 season and coach Nyala Bulock says the best is yet to come for her Falcons.
“All I can ask of my team is to give 100 percent and they did that tonight,” Bulock said. “We played a superior program tonight and that is the type of program we are striving to be. There were a lot of tears in the locker room, and we had to say goodbye to our seniors, but we are very excited about our future.
“The best is yet to come for our team.”