CHARLES CITY | Osage and Charles City are the ultimate volleyball rivals, but for a few minutes, everyone was on the same team.
Both teams entered the gym wearing black shirts saying, “Donate Life” with #LuftTuff written in green on the back. The shirts were in honor of 15-year-old Logan Luft, whom passed away this summer after an ATV accident.
It’s fall, months have passed, but now that sports have started, it’s the best time to raise awareness. You can see it written on the calves of cross country runners or tied in the green bows of volleyball players.
The story carries into the Osage community, also, Luft’s nurse was from there.
And for a moment, the rival fan bases stood up, all wearing the same shirts. Luft’s parents stood at the foot of the official’s stand, facing the home crowd as they received bouquets of flowers from captains of both teams.
A somber applause followed, then it was time to play volleyball.
The Green Devils were victorious in four sets over the Comets, 25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19.
“I think it’s a big win, any time we play them it’s a big match,” Osage coach Andie Olson said. “Two ranked teams filling a gym for a good cause tonight is good friendly rivalry. I think our kids and their kids, ever since in AAU, have been battling back and forth, so it’s a little bit about bragging rights, too. It’s win 21 for us, and anytime we can win 20 wins on our schedule, it’s a good night.”
Behind junior setter Rylie Olson’s 45 assists, three hitters racked up double-digit kills. Osage senior outside hitter Kelsey Havel knocked 17, while freshman middle blocker Dani Johnson and junior middle blocker Sydney Midlang each had 11. Midlang would also rack up a team-high of five bocks.
“I think communication and if we can get our passes good, it’s always good for the middles,” Midlang said. “The willing to go and you want to get that ball, so you just go. We do a lot of drills working with footwork, they aren’t the most fun. It helps in the end.”
For the Comets, senior Tayler Schmidt commanded the outside with 12 kills, while junior Sami Heyer would emerge in the fourth set with six kills to rack up 10 total on the night.
During the first two sets, Osage held a consistent three-point lead until the end, extending it to five for a 25-20 score.
The third set got interesting. Schmidt’s back and front row performance fueled a 17-14 lead for the Comets after four tied-up scores. The Green Devils stayed within striking distance, but the Comets would take the third set 25-22.
Long rallies were the story for the fourth set. Heyer found her rhythm for the Comets, elevating unstoppable hits from the outside.
“When Sami transitions hard, she is unstoppable,” Charles City head coach Maddie Frank said. “When she gets her butt back and she gets behind the ball she’s unstoppable because she has a vertical, especially when she has that confidence. We’re working with it so she can go up consistently against those blockers and get a good swing out of it.”
Midlang and Johnson continued slamming quick sets and slides out of middle, and if the ball didn’t go to them, it was going to Havel for her sixth kill on the set.
The Comets would rally two points on match point to make the Green Devils earn it, but Osage would take the match on a Havel kill 25-19.
“We talk a lot about being able to draw the line in the sand and say 'OK, that’s it, we’re in control of this match, we need to stay in control of this match. Nope, we’re done, shut the door, it’s time,'” Olson said.
Osage went on to host Aplington-Parkersburg and No. 1 in 1A Janesville on Thursday. The Green Devils defeated Aplington-Parkersburg in straight sets 25-17, 25-18 and lost to Janesville in three sets 21-25, 25-21, 6-15.
Havel racked up a total of 25 kills, Jacobs was next with 14. Freshman Paige Kisley and Midlang each had 10 kills. Midlang topped the front line defense with 10 blocks, Kisley had six.
Olson backed the team with 59 assists on the night. Chambers had nine digs.
The Green Devils play Crestwood in their final match of the regular season on Wednesday.