WEST PLAINS, Mo. – They’re making progress, but members of the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team discovered they still have a long much work to do after losing a five-set heartbreaker Tuesday night, Sept. 12, against Region 16/Missouri Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC) foe Jefferson College, Hillsboro.
The Grizzlies (3-6) battled back from a two-set deficit to force the Vikings to a fifth set before dropping the game 23-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 13-15 in Joe Paul Evans Arena at the West Plains Civic Center.
“There were some really good moments and some not-so-good moments,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said today in summing up the contest. “Consistency is such a key to becoming a better team. We’re getting more consistent, but we still have a long way to go.”
Consistency is just one of the many pieces the Grizzlies are trying to improve as the season progresses. They’re also learning how to create the proper mindset for finishing games and developing trust in each other, Wiedemann said.
“What’s frustrating is, we look at this game and the Midland game earlier this season, and we could be 5-4 instead of 3-6. That’s a mindset thing. The right mindset creates the reality. The way we play on our side matters, and we’re finding out why we’re on this side of these close games instead of the other side. They need that growth mindset to continue and not settle with where we are,” Wiedemann said.
“We had a good, productive meeting after last night’s game,” the coach continued. “This group is very good together. They get along well, and there’s not a lot of drama. But they don’t yet have the courage to say what they need from each other. They have to start respecting what they need out of each other and be willing to call each other out without feeling bad about it. It’s a big piece for teams to develop trust. It’s part of growing up and developing good relationships. If you’re a good teammate and care what really goes on, you need to say it.”
One of the bright spots for the evening was the play of freshman libero Kamryn Artale, who was recently moved from left back to middle back. The change has paid dividends in just two outings with higher dig totals. Last night, she tallied 32.
“Playing middle back has made Kamryn better,” the coach said. “She did a really good job giving us opportunities to take another swing. She dug a lot of good, tough swings.”
The Grizzlies also got strong performances from freshman middle attacker Keziah Williams and right side attacker Tatjana Trifkovic. Williams led the team in kills with 14, blocks with four, including two solo blocks, and points earned with 15, while Trifkovic proved to be the most effective at the net, hitting .434 while gathering 13 kills.
“Keziah and Tatjana did a good job of getting aggressive and taking care of the ball,” Wiedemann said. “They gave us some momentum offensively.”
Other statistical leaders were redshirt freshman setter Kinli Simmons with 47 assists and freshman middle attacker Koty Cooper with a passing rating of 2.46.
The Grizzlies were scheduled to travel to Lakeland, Florida, this weekend to compete in the Polk State College Invitational, where they would have faced No. 1 ranked Miami Dade College from Miami, 13th ranked St. Petersburg College from St. Petersburg and the host team, which this week received votes in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Women’s Volleyball poll. The event, however, has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.
Instead, the Grizzlies will use the additional time to prepare for the Blue Dragon Classic Tournament Sept. 22 and 23 at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. They will get a rematch with No. 2 Iowa Western Community College of Council Bluffs, as well as face Frank Phillips College from Borger, Texas; New Mexico Military Institute from Roswell, which also received votes in this week’s poll; and Northeastern Junior College from Sterling, Colorado.
“It takes time, energy and effort to improve,” Wiedemann said. “We have to grow and move forward. No matter how difficult it seems to get them to put things together at times, we’re not giving up on them, and we’re not going to let them give up on each other just because it’s hard. Toughness and determination make a difference, and we need to keep developing those qualities.”
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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