Grizzlies win volleyball home opener
WEST PLAINS, Mo. – It wasn’t pretty, but the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team won its season home opener Friday, Sept. 14, against John A. Logan College, Carterville, Ill.
The Grizzlies downed the Volunteers 25-9, 25-22, 19-25, 25-10 before an enthusiastic crowd at the West Plains Civic Center arena and are now 4-5 overall this season.
“It was a good home opening win,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. “It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we definitely had some good things going on.”
The Grizzlies got off to a quick start in the first game, going up by 10 points before the Volunteers got on the board. “We played well, and John A. Logan had some nerves,” Wiedemann said. “You can tell how a team is feeling by their passing, and they looked tight in that game.”
The Volunteers were loose by the second game and played like Wiedemann expected. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, started getting tight themselves and struggled to finish out the game. By the third game, it appeared the roles had fully reversed, with the Grizzlies fighting to develop some consistency on the court and the Volunteers controlling the game.
“We’re going to have to get better at not letting our frustrations get the better of us. That’s when we start to struggle and force things,” Wiedemann said. “When we force things, we start having hitting errors, and game three was full of errors. We need to play within the rally, otherwise, we will get ourselves into trouble.”
The Grizzlies also weren’t communicating on the court, the coach added. “It takes energy and effort to communicate at a level that will allow you to maintain consistency,” she explained. “You have to practice it to put it in play. You can’t think it’s just going to happen. When we communicate, it’s pretty obvious. Communication without the ball and movement without the ball go hand in hand. That’s where the flow of the game comes from for your team.”
Wiedemann pointed this out to the Grizzlies during the break between games, and the talk paid off, as they once again dominated the Volunteers in game four to earn the victory. “When we were in control, we were really in control. When we’re not, we need to learn to maintain what we’re doing so we don’t force anything,” the coach said.
Offensively, the Grizzlies were led by middle attacker Torika Baleilekutu, who recorded 20 kills on 29 attempts with one error for an attacking percentage of .655. She also led the team defensively with four blocks, including two solos, and in points earned with 24.
“Torika was outstanding offensively and defensively,” Wiedemann said. “She led us in blocks and kills. Twenty-nine swings, 20 kills and only one error is excellent.”
Three other Grizzlies also hit .300 and above – sophomore middle attacker Magda Zietek (.375), sophomore right side attacker Candyce Alexander (.365), and sophomore outside attacker Taylor Swayzer (.300). Swayzer also recorded double figures in kills with 10.
Wiedemann also praised Alexander and freshman setter/right side attacker Sarah Stretch for their right side defense. “Candyce and Sarah dug a lot of balls, 19 total. That really shows they’re getting in good position. They play pretty well around each other,” the coach said. Alexander led the team in digs with 11, while Stretch led the team in assists with 48.
Wiedemann said she would like to thank Howell County Outpost for sponsoring Friday’s match. “We really appreciate their support and sponsorship. It adds so much to our game atmosphere,” she said.
Communication will be a major emphasis in practice this week as the Grizzlies prepare to compete in the Hutchinson Community College Invitational Tournament Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21 and 22, in Hutchinson, Kan. At 2 p.m. Friday, they will face Barton County College of Great Bend, Kan., then the host team at 6 p.m. Saturday, they will face New Mexico Military Institute of Roswell at 9 a.m. and Seminole (Okla.) State College at 3 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to tournament play,” Wiedemann said. “This tournament is always a good one.”
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