Grizzlies start season with 3-1 record at Texas tournament
TYLER, Texas – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team got off to a great start for the 2012 season, posting a 3-1 record in the Tyler Junior College Invitational Tournament Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25, in Tyler, Texas.
On Friday, the Grizzlies defeated Richland College of Dallas, Texas, 25-13, 25-13, 25-13 but fell to the host team 22-25, 19-25, 24-26. On Saturday, the Grizzlies downed Victoria (Texas) College 25-15, 25-18, 25-9 and held off Panola College of Carthage, Texas, 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 33-31 in one of the best matches of the event.
“It was a great first weekend against some good competition,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. “What we experienced Friday against Tyler and the way we adjusted and executed against Panola on Saturday was one of the best positives of the weekend. When you have a team that will take a scouting report or what you talk about in terms of adjustments and use that to improve what they do on their own side of the floor, that’s great to see at this stage. It makes me believe this is something they’ll continue to do throughout the rest of the season.”
Wiedemann said the Grizzlies’ two toughest matches were against Tyler, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) preseason No. 2 team, and Panola. “The way we took care of the ball against these two very good defensive teams was great. Our players get it. They know it’s going to take more than one swing or one dig to get something done.
“Our intensity against Panola and the level of offense and defense was great,” she continued. “It was so refreshing to watch this group get into a game like that and keep fighting. We stayed in their face. If they pushed us, we pushed back, and we got the final push.
“Against Tyler, we were a little hesitant, but for a loss, we played pretty well, considering it was their home court and our first really tough match,” Wiedemann explained. “We took a lot from this loss and put it into action the next day against Panola.”
The Grizzlies met their opponents with a balanced attack, with all five of the team’s hitters posting attacking percentages of .237 or higher for the tournament and recording 30 to 34 kills apiece. “I haven’t seen a stat sheet like that in a long time. It still blows my mind,” Wiedemann said. “The way we handled the ball and took care of the ball was great to see, especially this early in the season.”
Freshmen attackers Torika Baleilekutu and Helena Peric led the team in total number of kills with 34 each, followed by sophomores Taylor Swayzer and Candyce Alexander with 33 each, and freshman Nella Ioramo with 30. Freshman setter/right side attacker Sarah Stretch led the team in assists with 152. Swayzer led the team in digs with 58. Ioramo led the team in blocks with 6.5, including five solos. Peric recorded a team-leading seven aces. Baleilekutu led the team in points earned with 43.5.
“Sarah did a fantastic job of distributing the ball to keep us balanced and our opponents off balance. All five of our attackers had 30 to 34 kills each,” the coach said. “Taylor played very well through the course of the tournament both offensively and defensively. She took some big swings and led us in digs per game for the tournament with 4.46. Our two freshmen from California, Torika and Nella, really made a difference in the middle, Helena also did a great job on the outside, and Candyce handled the pressure of taking a lot of swings and delivering. Libero Victoria Williams did a great job by leading us in passing and averaging three digs per game in just three rotations.”
The Grizzlies will hit the road again later this week to compete in the Salt Lake Community College Invitational Friday and Saturday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, in Salt Lake City, Utah. They will face Snow College, Ephraim, Utah, at 10 a.m. Friday and Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs, at noon. Saturday, they will play College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, at 11 a.m. and the host team at 1 p.m.
“This weekend will be another very tough tournament,” Wiedemann said. “We need to come back, look at the things we want to improve on, and let that help us get better through the games.”
One thing that will definitely help their efforts is their will to win, the coach added. “They all play with intensity and emotion. They will fight to win. It’s nice to see that they understand that’s what it’s going to take. We’re going to need that this weekend at Salt Lake.”
For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, including a copy of the 2012 schedule, visit the team’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/vb/.
Filed Under: Volleyball