West Plains, Mo. – Missed opportunities cost the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team a win Wednesday evening in a key Region 16 match-up against 10th ranked Mineral Area College (MAC) at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
"It was a tough game for both teams, and we had a lot of good things going on, but we just didn't stay disciplined enough to finish," Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. "We needed to take care of the easy stuff, which at the end really hurt us. We didn't make adjustments quick enough defensively at times, and that needs to change. We need to do a better job when it gets tight."
The Grizzlies, now 8-8, got out to an impressive start, building a solid lead in the first set and maintaining it to a 25-18 win.
The game got tighter after that. The Grizzlies dropped the second set to their Park Hills counterparts 25-27, then bounced back to take the third 25-21 before dropping the fourth 21-25.
In the fifth set, the Cardinals built an 8-3 lead, but the Grizzlies chipped away at it until they were within striking distance, 13-14. But a missed opportunity on the next play gave the Cardinals the 15-13 win to decide the game.
"We cannot keep giving up big leads and expect to just fight our way back in at the end," the coach stressed.
Grizzlies show improvements on offense
"Overall, I felt like we did some really good things. We became more aggressive and efficient offensively against a very good defensive team. In fact, it was one of the better overall offensive games we've put together this season," Wiedemann said.
"But little things here and there, what we were trying to do to create better one-on-one block situations, we've got to get better doing those things," she added. "You know they're going to put up a big block. You have to make them spread out, and you have to be patient enough to put yourself in a position to take good swings."
Defensively, she said, the Grizzlies missed some opportunities when the Cardinals were just trying to get the ball over the net late in the game.
"We didn't make the right moves in those situations, and we need to expect to execute on those types of plays," she said. "We got back on our heels, and that put us in a bad position.
"Those little things, if we can work to clean those up and keep playing aggressive like we did, it will help give us confidence moving forward," Wiedemann said.
Outside attackers lead the way
The coach praised the play of the team's outside attackers during the game. "Our outsides and opposite did a really good job overall. They took big swings, played with power and were very efficient overall," she said.
"We took better care of the ball. We just need to be a little smarter in tight situations at times," she added.
Freshman outside attacker Camilly Cristiny led the way offensively with 23 kills and a .514 attacking percentage. She also had 23.5 points earned.
Freshman outside attacker Kelly Wiedemann recorded 17 kills, and sophomore right side attacker Tatjana Trifkovic added 14 kills. Middle attacker Keziah Williams rounded out the double-digit kill tally for the team with 13.
Defensively, middle attacker Yileen Ng He led the team in blocks with two, and Trifkovic had a team-leading 25 digs.
"We had an awesome crowd. We always have an awesome crowd cheering their hearts out for us, and we couldn't be more thankful for their support," Wiedemann said.
Texas tournament up next
The Grizzlies will compete Friday and Saturday in the Holiday Inn-South Broadway Tyler Junior College Invitational in Tyler, Texas, where they will meet a trio of ranked teams.
Friday, they will face No. 17 New Mexico Military Institute from Roswell at 11 a.m. and the College of Central Florida from Ocala at 3 p.m. At 9 a.m. Saturday, they will meet No. 7 Navarro College from Corsicana, Texas, and at 11, they will face the host team, ranked 13th this week.
"I feel like we can keep getting better as long as we keep playing aggressive and making strong moves," the coach said. "It's going to be hard against the teams we play, but we have to step up to the challenge. We can't let frustration dictate what we do. We have to stay the course, keep doing what will make the difference in making us a better team and not give up on it.
"We literally are seeing good teams every week. Practically every game over these past two weeks has been against ranked teams. We know what to expect. We have to learn to handle it better," Wiedemann said.