Sister coaches face off in Fort Osage volleyball loss

By Bill Althaus
It was a family affair at Fort Osage Monday night when Melanie DeMore, right, brought her Odessa volleyball team to play sister Vanessa Gage’s Indians. DeMore earned bragging rights over her big sister as the Bulldogs won 3-1.

The Monday night matchup between rival sisters was upstaged by a bird.

The high school volleyball match at Fort Osage featured everything a fan could ask for – gritty volleyball and emotional swings – and a frightened swallow that kept everyone guessing. It landed on the court several times during Odessa’s hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Indians.

“Just when you think 2020 can’t get any weirder,” Fort Osage activities director Ryan Schartz joked, “you have a bird stop a volleyball match.”

The bird couldn’t take away from the matchup that featured sister coaches – and Fort Osage graduates – Melanie DeMore of Odessa and the Indians’ Vanessa Gage.

“This was the first time we’ve played Melanie’s team in the regular season,” said Gage after Odessa won 25-22, 30-28, 22-25, 29-27 in a tight battle. “And it was a great night of volleyball. I thought both teams played well, and I like the new best-of-five format.”

Many matches this season will feature the best-of-five format. Others will be played in the traditional best two-of-three format.

With players and coaches wearing masks, the action was intense from beginning to end.

“Vanessa and I are together pretty much all summer, as we do a lot of things with our teams together,” DeMore said. “We call it ‘Codessa’ because we’re like co-coaches for the two teams.

“We’re a smallish team because we graduated a lot of talent from last year’s team, and I was really pleased with our back row play tonight. Our girls on the front row did some really good things, too. It was just a great night of volleyball.”

After the visitors took the first two sets, Fort Osage roared back to claim the 25-22 victory in the third set as senior middle hitter Kendra Siefker had six kills and an ace.

“Kendra kind of took over the game; she’s capable of doing that,” Gage said. “She does so many good things for us, and I think all the girls really got excited when we got that win.”

Odessa led 23-11 in the fourth game, but the Indians rallied to knot it 24-24.

“I was so proud of our girls,” Gage said. “They just wouldn’t give up. Both teams played with big hearts tonight.”

The family affair also included their father, Steve Jones, who served briefly as a line judge before an official arrived and took over.

“Dad loves to watch us play,” Gage said, “and I know he loved being part of the match with both his daughters coaching.”