Grizzlies close out regular season tonight at civic center
WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team will close out their regular season tonight, Oct. 29, with a 5:30 p.m. contest against Seminole State College, Seminole, Okla., at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
Tonight’s match also serves as the team’s annual “Dig for a Cure Night” with proceeds from fundraisers going toward breast cancer research and education. Activities are being sponsored by Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic.
The Grizzlies, ranked 12th in the current National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national poll, will enter tonight’s match with a 23-8 record after playing five matches this past weekend at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo. On Thursday, Oct. 25, the Grizzlies defeated the host team 25-15, 25-29, 25-16 in a head-to-head Region 16 battle to go undefeated in region play this season.
They then posted a 2-2 record in the Jefferson College Halloween Classic tournament Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27. They defeated Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, Iowa, 20-25, 27-29, 25-19, 25-21, 15-12 Friday and Seminole (Okla.) State College 25-14, 25-18, 25-23 Saturday but fell to No. 4 Iowa Western Community College of Council Bluffs 25-23, 21-25, 24-26, 18-25 Friday in their first match of the tournament and No. 17 Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College 25-23, 26-24, 20-25, 21-25, 17-19 Saturday in their last match at the event.
“We had a good but frustrating weekend,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. “The win against Jefferson was a good win for us. We accomplished what we wanted to do with that match, and we played pretty well in the tournament, overall. The frustration came in the match against Hutch. We’re not taking anything away from Hutch, they played excellent. We just felt we could have done more to win that match. We learned we can’t take anything for granted.”
Defense was the key to the Grizzlies’ win over Jefferson. “Our defense helped us put points together, and that resulted in a three-game win,” Wiedemann said. “We really had a good all-around match. We played solid as a team. We didn’t make too many errors, and we dug the ball well, with three of our players in double digits in digs.”
Freshman outside attacker Helena Peric led the team in digs with 18, followed by sophomore outside hitter Taylor Swayzer with 14 and freshman libero Victoria Williams with 10. Sophomore right side attacker Candyce Alexander led the team in passing rating with 2.69. Swayzer, freshman middle attacker Torika Baleilekutu and sophomore middle attacker Magda Zietek each had 1.5 blocks. Offensively, Peric had a team-leading 12 kills and an attacking percentage of .375. Freshman setter Sarah Stretch led the team in assists with 35.
Iowa Western’s service game kept the Grizzlies from winning in that contest, Wiedemann said. “They have three players who bomb away on serves. That’s the first time we’ve seen a team that aggressive serving. It caused us to over-pass too often,” she said. “Otherwise, we were right their with them in our ability to get up there and take huge swings. Both of us worked hard for our points, but they took advantage of our minor miscues.”
The loss affected the Grizzlies in their first two sets against Indian Hills, but Wiedemann said she was pleased to see her team come back to win. “After shaking off the disappointment of losing to Iowa Western, we really took control of the match. We came back from being down 0-2 and put some nice things together. The girls rallied and responded well,” the coach said.
Three Grizzlies recorded double digits in kills in this match – Peric with 35, Swayzer 17 and Baleilekutu 12. Four Grizzlies, Peric, Swayzer, Williams and Baleilekutu, also recorded double digits in digs, with Peric’s 21 leading the way. “Taylor and Torika played well, but Helena was on fire in this game. She took swings from all over the floor,” Wiedemann said.
Saturday’s meeting with Seminole was the fifth between the two teams this season, and for the fifth time, the Grizzlies came away with the win, but not before being pushed by the Trojans in the third set. “We took control early, but in set three they definitely pushed us. Their setter got on a roll and helped keep them in the match,” Wiedemann said. “They’re tired of losing to us, so we’re going to have to be on our toes tonight.”
By all accounts, Hutchinson played its best match of the season against the Grizzlies Saturday. The team’s struggle throughout the season has been maintaining a high level of play. “They finally put it together Saturday, and wouldn’t go away,” Wiedemann said. “We had some errors we typically don’t have at the end of that match that cost us, and I think we were a little lethargic.”
The Grizzlies already had played 15 hard-fought sets before that match, and they were beginning to take their toll on the players, the coach said. “Although Helena led us in kills in that match, it wasn’t her best performance. She took over 200 swings during the course of this weekend, and she was highly productive, but it may have caught up to her against Hutch. She averaged six kills and four digs per set over the course of 20 sets. That’s a high level of play.”
For the tournament, Peric recorded 96 kills on 175 attempts with 24 errors for an attacking percentage of .411. She also had 4.5 blocks, six aces, 66 digs and 106.5 points earned.
Wiedemann also praised the play of Swayzer, Balielekutu and Zietek during the tournament. “Taylor had a good weekend. She took good swings, averaging over three kills per game. Torika was very efficient for us in the middle offensively and defensively, and Magda’s blocking kept us in some matches,” the coach said.
Swayzer recorded 52 kills on 123 attempts with 18 errors for an attacking percentage of .276. She also recorded 3.5 blocks two aces, 46 digs and 57.5 points earned. Baleilekutu had 31 kills on 87 attempts with eight errors for an attacking percentage of .264. She recorded nine blocks, including two solos, three aces, 49 digs and 52 points earned. Zietek led the team in blocks with 17.5, including seven solos, as well as 14 kills. Stretch had 197 assists and six aces.
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