Jeremy Gaston | Sports Editor
SALINA—It wasn’t a perfect season, or even a perfect
tournament, but it had a perfect ending.
The Osage City Lady Indians capped a 42-3 season with a win in the
finals of the Class 3A Volleyball Tournament Saturday evening in
Salina, bringing home the school’s and the city’s first
volleyball title, ever.
“It was awesome,” said Osage City senior Deidra Jones.
“We expected it, but it’s also unexpected. We all wanted
The Lady Indians’ path was littered with challenges. After
a big win to close out a tough sub-state, Osage City looked toward
a normal week of practice to prepare for state.
That didn’t happen.
“My initial thought was that I was going to be here all week
for practice, and that it was going to be a fun and exciting week,”
said Osage City Head Coach Tara Durkin.
“It turned out to be a fun and exciting week in a very different
way for me.”
Durkin went into the hospital Monday, giving birth to a daughter
“Not being with the girls was rough,” Durkin said. “Once
we had the baby, I was like, ‘Lets get out of here.’”
However, Durkin and her newborn, Malia Elise, weren’t released
from the hospital until Friday afternoon.
“There were lots of mixed emotions for me, personally,”
Durkin said. “Not being able to go to practice Thursday was
very hard for me. That was rough. And not being there Friday was
horrible, I never thought twice about not going Saturday.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Indians were battling through pool play in Salina
under the direction of assistant coaches Amie Lohmeyer and Dennis
Fort. Osage City got off to a slow start against Cherokee-Southeast,
but dispatched the Lancers
25-23, 25-14. Hillsboro went more easily in a 25-18, 25-14 win.
Durkin got updates as she waited to be released from the hospital.
“Hearing they won and getting texts from the fans in the crowd
was actually pretty exciting,” she said. “I just sat
there holding my phone and waiting for updates.”
The girls were already 2-0 in pool play and headed to bracket play
by the time their coach was released. They had one more challenge
Friday, a rematch with Atchison County, one of two teams to beat
the Lady Indians this season.
“We were on our way when they were playing,” Durkin
said. “I wanted the girls to beat them so bad.”
The Atchison County Lady Tigers ended Osage City’s pool play
with a loss, beating the Lady Indians 25-17, 25-21.
“We still made it to the finals,” Durkin said. “Whether
you’re first or second out of your pool obviously does not
matter. You play well in the (semifinals) and win then you’re
in the championship.”
Durkin rejoined the Lady Indians as they paved the path to the finals
with a 25-18, 25-20 win against top seeded Phillipsburg in their
semifinal Saturday morning, handing the Lady Panthers their second
loss of the season.
“That was awesome,” Durkin said. “We totally shocked
Whether it was having their head coach back, or just a renewed attitude,
the Lady Indians walked into Bicentennial Center ready to play.
“Nobody was as ready as we were,” said senior Kylie
Osage City held a steady lead as they took the first game 25-20,
but struggled in the second.
“There was one time during a time out,” Durkin said.
“I told the girls to get rid of the face, and it was there.
They whipped it off, it was gone, and I never saw it again.”
The girls trailed 14-7, and were down 19-11 during the second time
“I told them if they want it, it can be done,” Durkin
Osage City came out swinging with a 14-4 run to win the second set
25-23, taking their first win from the Lady Tigers, along with the
match, the tournament and the state title.
“We owed them a loss,” said senior Carly Spicer.
The match ended with each team’s top hitter on the back row
– Spicer and Atchison County’s Korie Thompson. The Lady
Indians, however, relied heavily on the Kate and Leah Garland at
“That was one of our goals, to win a match with the Garland
girls up front,” Durkin said. “We got a huge block that
sent us into orbit and them the opposite way. It just turned it
Leah Garland led the Lady Indians with 42 for 43 serving, with 4
aces and 20 kills; Kate Garland was 49 for 54 serving with 7 acres
and 16 kills; Spicer was 26 for 27 serving with 56 kills; Taylor
Kimball was 30 for 32 serving with 92 assists; Keely Giesy was 24
for 26 serving with 38 digs; and Jones was 21 for 22 serving.
Half of the starting six players – Garland, Spicer and Kimball
– were named to the state tournament team.
“I think our whole team deserved to be on there,” Spicer
said. “It was a team effort, it wasn’t just us that
For the girls, it really was a group effort, culminating years of
playing together in school as well as club teams in several sports.
“We’ve really been working up to this since we were
10,” Spicer said.
The girls play well together, win together and celebrate together.
“The biggest comment I’ve gotten this season is that
our team is so fun to watch,” Durkin said. “Every time
we scored, we had to hold Deidra and whoever was on the bench to
keep them off the court. We got in trouble a few times.”
But who said having too much fun is a bad thing?
“I think that’s what helped us,” Durkin said.
“The girls just never got down.”
The celebration continued on the bus ride home, and was revived
again as the team passed the store windows and signs as they arrived
“I think the most fun part was coming home,” Jones said.
“Seeing the town and how much support we had.”
“You don’t realize what an impact you make on people,”
Durkin said. “You don’t realize what an impact you make
when you do well. People will remember.”
The girls understood the “2010 3A State Volleyball Champions”
sign had already been ordered.
The win at state wraps up the high school volleyball careers of
seven of the eight varsity members of Osage City’s team, seniors
Carly Spicer, Keely Giesy, Kylie Lieber, Taylor Kimball, Leah Garland,
Deidra Jones and Lauren Poertner.
“This, by far, has been the most unique group of seniors,”
Durkin said. “There are seven of them - I have never had that
many. These girls have worked very hard for what they have accomplished.
From making breakfast burritos to raise money to go to KU camp,
attending weights over the summer, to playing club volleyball. For
some of them, volleyball is not their most favorite sport, but I
know that it ranks high on their list. For this reason each one
embraced the fact that if they worked together, they could accomplish
anything - and that is exactly what they did.
“Never did this group complain and they all accepted their
roles on the floor and worked to improve each day. The girls accepted
their roles and knew that if they accepted them, improved themselves
in that role, then they would be a great team. They have demonstrated
what can be done through hard work, dedication, and determination,
so that future teams can learn from.”
The Lady Indians look forward to continued greatness as they close
this chapter and move on to the next.
“It was a good way to end the volleyball season, but we still
have a couple more seasons to go,” Garland said.