For the Fort Osage volleyball team, the fire typically starts up front.

For the Fort Osage volleyball team, the fire typically starts up front.

At least that’s how things played out Thursday as the Indians decked visiting Winnetonka 25-16, 25-15 in a match with significant Suburban Middle Seven Conference implications.

Not only did the contest vault Fort Osage into second place in the conference, but it also provided the Indians with their second straight win following what coach Sean Barrett described as a timid effort in last weekend’s Lee’s Summit North Tournament.

In the tournament, Barrett said, the Indians lacked confidence and it led to a disappointing 2-3-1 showing, which included defeats to North and Oak Park before falling to William Chrisman in the consolation round.

“We ended last Saturday with our emotions getting to us,” Barrett said. “This is the kind of group that can’t do that. They’ve got to stay up. They’ve got to play together.”

The Indians’ emotions were still on display against the Griffins, but in a much more productive fashion. Fort Osage (8-5, 4-1) dominated the net with Setoa Talimatasi and Asia Cole playing the role of frontline stalwarts. Cole registered five kills, five assists and three blocks while Talimatasi landed five kills. Lynn Siefker also tallied four kills and three blocks as the Indians totaled 13 total blocks.

It was the Indians’ front-row presence that encouraged Barrett the most.

“I told them what sparks us is blocks,” Barrett said. “If we can block the ball, we have three good back-row players that can dig a lot of balls. But we have to take away part of the court for them. When we do that, we get excited and we play much better. That really is the biggest thing.”

The Griffins probably felt like the entire court was off limits after one particularly lengthy volley late in the second game. After the ball was batted back and forth to each side several times, Winnetonka finally found an apparent opening in Fort Osage’s positioning and drilled the ball for what looked like an easy point. But Talimatasi dove on the ground with her arm completely extended and seemed to deflect the ball back up with the very edge of her fingertips. The Indians sent the ball back to the Griffins and the sequence eventually ended with Cole and Paige Maske rejecting a ball at the net for the second-to-last point of the match.

“I was shocked I actually touched it,” Talimatasi said, laughing. “... I was super excited the ladies were hustling and we were trying to finish the game and finish what we started.”

What the Indians started was a hopeful climb up the conference standings. Fort Osage entered Thursday’s match tied with Winnetonka and Chrisman for second place – just a game behind first-place Park Hill South. After finishing in a third-place tie last year with three other teams and second to last in the three years prior to that, the possibility of a conference title is floating in front of the Indians.

“I hope that we can put this in the back of our minds that we played like this against Winnetonka,” Cole said. “And hopefully we can play like that against other teams, especially like a Park Hill South or a Staley.”

The Indians will get that chance with two critical conference games looming next week. They’ll meet up with Park Hill South on Thursday, but first they’ll take on William Chrisman on Tuesday after falling to the Bears  20-25, 25-18, 23-25 last Saturday.

“We can get good things from all areas,” Barrett said. “We just have to have the confidence that if someone makes a mistake someone’s going to pick it up for us.”