Halfway through the Class 4 District 15 semifinal match against Fort Osage, Truman senior Kassidy Ritchel sent a powerful message to the Indians.

Halfway through the Class 4 District 15 semifinal match against Fort Osage, Truman senior Kassidy Ritchel sent a powerful message to the Indians.
The top-seeded Patriots were nearly matched point for point with the Indians, the tournament’s fourth seed, when Ritchel served notice that Tuesday would not be the night her high school career ended.
Ritchel’s spike not only gave the Patriots a 13-11 lead but jump-started a 13-6 run that gave Truman a 25-17 first-game win en route to a two-game sweep over the Indians.
“I think anything that any of our teammates do that is powerful, gets us going,” Ritchel said of the tone-setting spike. “It definitely pumps me up and gets me going.”
The spike created an edge for Truman in the first game, and the team’s confidence was obvious. Undertones from a second spike by Ritchel that ended game one lasted all the way through the second game, a 25-10 Truman rout.
“Anything that we do that is positive gets our team up,” Ritchel said of the second spike. “It definitely carries over to the next game, and that showed by the score.”
Truman coach Denise Craig said she would like to see Ritchel spike the ball with authority more as the Patriots go on their playoff run.
“She needs to do it more, that’s what we think,” Craig said. “She needs to do that a little bit more.”
Craig said Ritchel, a four-year varsity letter winner, is starting to realize her potential as her high school career comes to a close.
“She just said the other day how she feels she is starting to come into her own game,” Craig said, before adding that Ritchel is the beneficiary of good setting from fellow senior Taryn Nash.
Nash had 21 assists against Fort Osage, which gives her 2,381 for her career, good for fourth place in state history, according to the 2009-2010 edition of the Missouri State High School Athletic Association’s record book.
“(Ritchel) has a great setter in Taryn Nash,” Craig said. “Taryn lays ’em up there and what do you do? There’s a ball up there, hit it down. You’re 6-(foot)-1. Jump up and hit it down.”
Fort Osage coach Sean Barrett said he was not at all awed by Ritchel’s play. For three seasons, Barrett said, Ritchel has proven what she can do.
“Kassidy is disgustingly good,” Barrett said. “She’s even a better person. You don’t want her to do well against you but I’m such a big fan of hers. She’s just a great kid. She’s killed us for three years, and I knew it was coming tonight. We just hoped that we could limit the damage.”
Ritchel wasn’t the only Patriot getting her power game on. Up 20-7 in the second game, outside hitter Easton Harper got in on the act with back to back spikes that knocked the wind out of the Indians’ sails.
“It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” Harper said of the feeling she got from the spikes. “It gives a spark to the whole game for me.”
Harper said Ritchel’s dominance in the middle Tuesday – she had seven kills and two blocks – was typical Ritchel.
“She’s always been like our go-to girl when we need a kill or (a big play),” Harper said. “We always call on her, and she’s always been there for us. And off the court, she’s awesome.”
Truman plays third-seeded host Winnetonka tonight at 7 p.m. for the District 15 championship. The Patriots won District 15 in 2006 and 2007 and lost to North Kansas City last season in the district championship game.
“They’re very scrappy,” Craig said of Winnetonka. “They played very well (Tuesday night against North Kansas City). It’s going to be a humdinger. I hope we come out on the winning side.”