WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The 25th season of Grizzly Athletics at Missouri State University-West Plains will officially get underway Friday, Sept. 8, with the annual Grizzly Booster Club Fall Picnic and the Grizzly Volleyball team’s season home opening game against Iowa Western Community College from Council Bluffs at the West Plains Civic Center.
The free picnic begins at 5 p.m. in the civic center exhibit hall with food and drinks provided by Almost Famous Grille & BBQ, Hiland Dairy and Pepsi Mid-America to the first 500 people who attend. Season previews will be given by Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann, Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp and Grizzly Cheer Team Coach Nick Pruitt.
At 6:30 p.m., the ninth-ranked Grizzly Volleyball team will face the third-ranked Reivers in the civic center arena in a game sponsored by Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply. Admission is free.
The Grizzlies will take a 2-4 record into Friday’s game after competing in the Blinn College Premier Tournament Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1-2, in Brenham, Texas. On Friday, the Grizzlies defeated Laredo Community College, Laredo, Texas, 25-20, 25-23, 26-24, and lost to the host team 20-25, 25-22, 15-25, 20-25. On Saturday, they fell to Midland College, Midland, Texas, 26-28, 25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 9-15.
“We’re still dealing with a lot of unforced errors. We’re not consistent enough in giving ourselves an opportunity to put points together, and that’s frustrating,” Wiedemann said. “We have some very good pieces, but we need to put more pieces together to build.”
“We’re better than we were, but we’re at a point where things need to change,” she continued. “There has to be focus and discipline in practice to get to the point where we’re doing the things we need to do in games. We can’t wait until a game to get things done.”
The Grizzlies played well against Laredo, but unforced errors made a huge difference in the outcome of the games against Blinn and Midland. “Our game against Midland was an opportunity missed,” the coach said. “Midland’s a good team. They’re a tough team to play because they are aggressive. We need to improve in maintaining our aggressiveness. We’d earn some points, then we’d give too many points away. That has to change.”
Even so, Wiedemann noticed several positives during the games. “Trying to establish the middle is a big piece, and I think we’re doing that. We’re effective from the right side, but we need to improve our efficiency. We dug a few more balls per set, and if our blocking continues to get better, we will continue to improve our defense. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re making steps,” the coach said.
Statistical leaders for the Grizzlies included freshman middle attacker Grace Stumbaugh, who had 33 kills and 10 blocks; freshman middle attacker Keziah Williams, who had an attacking percentage of .472; and freshman setter Miriam Cardoner Soler, who had 96 assists. Freshman middle attacker Koty Cooper led the team in digs with 39, and Soler, Cooper and Williams each had four service aces. Stumbaugh had 43 points earned.
“Our middles, Keziah and Grace, continue to produce, and (freshman outside/right side attacker) Tatjana (Trifkovic) took a lot of swings and got some big kills for us,” Wiedemann said.
For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, visit www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/vb/. For complete statistics of the Grizzlies’ games, visit http://www.njcaa.org/sports/wvball/2017-18/div1/teams/missouristateuniversitywestplains.
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