Truman High School’s Denise Craig and Fort Osage’s Sean Barrett lavished praise on each other’s new-look volleyball teams following the Patriots 25-14, 25-21 victory over Barrett’s Fort Osage squad Monday night before a packed house of Indian fans.

“We love coming over to Fort Osage,” Craig said, “because it’s always full, the atmosphere is wonderful and because Sean does such a great job with his team.

“They have a lot of new kids out there – but I want you to put this in the paper – they’re going to win a lot of matches.”

While Barrett was disappointed that his team’s late rally in the second game fell short, he saw some positive things in the two-game loss.

“We’re going to be all right,” Barrett said. “We had a lot of self-inflicted pain out there tonight – and Denise’s kids had a lot to do with that.

“I loved Taryn Nash (former all-state setter) and Kassidy Ritchel (a standout front-line player), but I didn’t notice any drop off tonight with Denise’s kids even though those two players graduated.

“They did a great job on the front row and passed the ball really well – and they’re going to just keep getting better because Denise will make them better.”

Truman got off to a 5-0 lead in the first game behind the serving of Kelsey Thomas (who had back-to-back aces).

Easton Harper then did her best Ritchel impersonation by slamming home three kills and the Patriots put it on cruise control.

“That’s what we talked about before the game,” Lauribeth Agee said. “We had a habit last year of getting down early and fighting our way back through every game.

“Tonight, especially in the first game, we got a lead and held onto it. That was nice.”

The Patriots led 5-1 in the second game and led 14-7 when the Indians made a dramatic comeback.

With Lauren Schweer and Elaine McAlister getting big kills, the Indians eventually knotted the score at 21-all.

“That was big, tying the second game,” setter Setoa Talimitasi said. “We’re a work in progress and we’re going to get better. We did some good things, and we just need to start doing more good things.”

Once the Indians tied the score, Truman scored the next four points on an out-of-bounds Indian serve, a Sarah Peck ace, and kills by Agee and Thomas.

“I don’t know how many matches we’re going to win this year,” Craig said, “but I love these girls. They are so  much fun to coach and to work with. We have a lot of new players on the floor, but a lot of them are seniors and this is their time to shine.”

Harper liked the sound of that comment.

“We’ve had great players in the past, and now, it’s time to see what we can do,” said Harper, who finished with seven kills. “Lauribeth and I like to talk to the team and keep everyone up.

“We had players in the past who did that, and now it’s our turn.”

Truman won the junior varsity match in three games.