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Patriots ride momentum past Fort Osage

By Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Fort Osage's Kendra Siefker (34) tries to block a spike by Truman's Sarina Ulberg (15) in Tuesday's Suburban Middle Six Conference match at Truman. Ulberg tallied 13 kills and 11 assists to help lead the Patriots to a 3-0 victory.

Each time Truman needed a momentum shift Tuesday, it found one and rode hot streaks late in each set to sweep Fort Osage 3-0.

The victory got the Patriots back in the win column after a 4-1 showing in the Lee’s Summit North Tournament that ended with a loss to Platte County in the finals on Saturday.

The Patriots came out hot and took an early lead on the visiting Indians, who were playing just match No. 7 this year after a two-week quarantine period.

Despite losing 25-16, 25-22 and 25-16, the Indians battled until the end and either led or were within three points or less late in all three sets in the Suburban Middle Six match.

“The first set we came in really confident and we worked really hard for it,” said Truman junior Sarina Ulberg, who had 13 kills, 11 assists and two aces in the victory. "The second set I think we slacked off a little and wasn’t ready for them to come back harder. We got back into our tempo and our game. We fixed it and finished it. It felt good. I knew we could win all three; for it to get close was a little upsetting. We collected ourselves and finished it strong.”

Truman's Kylie Gharst (7) and Laila Tatum (16) celebrate a home conference victory over Fort Osage with their teammates Tuesday night.

Truman (11-5-3, 3-0 Middle Six) – which has won or tied 11 of its past 13 matches – jumped ahead 15-9 in the first set, but Fort Osage rallied to pull within 19-16 on a kill by senior Kendra Siefker. A block by Ulberg turned the tide and was the start of a 6-0 surge to end the first match.

Fort Osage regrouped in the second set and turned a 16-13 deficit into a 21-20 lead, taking advantage of a series of return errors by the Patriots and getting a pair of kills from sophomore Josie Miller.

The lead was short-lived as a kill by senior Kylie Gharst tied it and then a return error by Fort Osage (2-5, 0-2 Middle Six) sailed out of bounds.

Truman middle hitter Kylie Gharst (7) knocks a spike over the net in Tuesday's conference match at Truman. Truman claimed a 3-0 win.

Fort Osage coach Vanessa Gage called a timeout to try to regroup her Indians, but they scored only one of the next four points.

“We were on quarantine for two weeks and we haven’t had a lot of time to come back,” Gage said. “We played four games last night (a loss against North Kansas City), so I think we are trying to get back in the groove of things. You know, it is what it is. It isn’t our first day playing volleyball so we need to show up. I know we didn’t win, but tonight was better ball than I've seen in a while. I feel that is good going into practice tomorrow. We have a conference game on Thursday and a tournament on Saturday. Hopefully we can build off of this.”

Fort Osage's Rayleigh Shockley (9) tries to save a ball from hitting the floor as teammates Nikki Snider (32) and Audrey Griffin (8) and Truman's Kylie Gharst look on in Tuesday's match at Truman. The host Patriots went on to a 3-0 win though Fort Osage kept it close in each set.

Fort Osage led in the third set as well, 7-5, but an Ulberg kill tied it 7-7. Truman scored the next four points and never trailed from there, though the Indians continued to keep it close. The match was as close as 18-16 late, but the Indians never scored again down the stretch.

Gharst and Taylor Jett provided kills for the Patriots, while the remaining points came from return errors.

“Serving played a big role; our serving was a little more aggressive down the stretch and it gave us an advantage,” Truman coach David Gardner said. “Volleyball is a momentum sport. Whoever has it when it matters is important. We pulled it together at the end.”

Gabby Kurle had 16 digs, while Elle Schramm led the Patriots with 17 assists. Libero Nicole Davis had 11 digs and two aces – tying Ulberg for the team lead.

Truman's Nicole Davis (6) serves for the final point in the Patriots' 3-0 home victory over Fort Osage Tuesday night.

Fort Osage plays Belton on Thursday on the road and will then play in the Grandview Tournament on Saturday. Truman – winners of 11 in a row and 17 of the past 18 against Fort dating back to 2009, plays a conference match on the road Thursday at Raytown.