Grizzlies finish regular season with straight-set win, set sights on region tourney

Grizzly Volleyball players huddle on the court to discuss game strategy.

West Plains, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team finished the 2018 regular season Tuesday night with a straight-set victory over St. Louis Community College at the West Plains Civic Center.

The Grizzlies (15-15) are now setting their sights on postseason play at the Region 16 Championship Tournament this weekend in Park Hills. The second-seeded Grizzlies will face third-seeded Jefferson College at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.

The winner of that contest will play first seed Mineral Area College at noon Saturday. The Cardinals (23-3) are ranked ninth in the nation.

"We've talked all season about how we want to be playing our best volleyball at the end of the season. We have been putting some good things together, but for us to continue our season, we need to keep making things happen," said Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann.

Changes made to district playoffs

For the first time in postseason action, the first- and second-place teams of the Region 16 tournament will host district playoff games on Nov. 3. The playoff winners will then advance to the NJCAA Division I Women's National Volleyball Championship Nov. 15-17 in Hutchinson, Kansas.

"The path to the national championships has changed due to having 14 automatic qualifiers and two at-large bids," she said. "The number of regions that are now districted together is much different than it has been the past few years. We now have four regions in our district, rather than just two, and this led to the new district format."

In Tuesday's regular season finale, the Grizzlies defeated the Archers 25-11, 25-11, 25-21 before an enthusiastic crowd of students and fans.

"It was a good night. I felt like we did a nice job getting through the game and playing pretty well," the coach said. "We didn't have many dig chances, but offensively, we created a lot of opportunities and took advantage of them."

Statistical leaders were freshman outside attacker Kelly Wiedemann with 11 kills, followed by freshman outside attacker Camilly Cristiny and sophomore right side attacker Tatjana Trifkovic with 9 each.

Sophomore middle attacker Yileen Ng He had two blocks and an attacking percentage of .714, freshman setter Julia Dunning recorded 34 kills, and sophomore libero Kamryn Artale had 11 digs.

Sophomores honored

The evening proved to be a special one, as players and fans honored the team's four sophomores, Artale, Ng He, Trifkovic and middle attacker Keziah Williams.

"It was really special to see these kids, who really went through some hard times as players, get the recognition they deserve," Coach Wiedemann said. "I appreciate how they stayed with us, trusted us and believed in the process because it has paid off really well for them, seeing where they are right now compared to a year ago. They have put themselves in a great position to do great things.

"What they've done together and how they've grown together is something they need to be proud of. You only have so many opportunities in life, and they've grown a lot in understanding the big picture. Volleyball is a big piece of it, but it's not the only piece," the coach added.

'Pink Out Game' raised funds for cancer treatment center

The game also served as the team's annual Pink Out Game to raise awareness of breast cancer. As part of the effort, the team sold T-shirts to raise money for Ozarks Medical Center's (OMC) Cancer Treatment Center.

"The Cancer Treatment Center had a lot of people at the game, and I appreciate their efforts in bringing awareness to the disease and showing support for our event at a time that, I'm sure, is very busy for them," Wiedemann said.

T-shirts, which feature a pink ribbon and the words "No One Fights Alone" are still for sale through Oct. 31. The cost is $15 for youth through adult XL sizes and $18 for adult 2X and 3X sizes. For more information or to purchase T-shirts, contact Kileene Collins at 417-255-7255.

The Pink Out game was sponsored by Community 1st Banking Company and Screenshots. "We so appreciate their partnership in this effort and event," Coach Wiedemann said. "It is all for helping those in our community who need support and services provided by the OMC Cancer Treatment Center."

The team also hosted a pizza party for the students who have cheered the Grizzlies on at every home game this season immediately following the game.

"We had a great crowd that was really into the game. The students were hyped up, and it was nice to give them something special to show our appreciation. We love our fans!," Coach Wiedemann said.

For more information about Grizzly Volleyball, visit the team's website. For complete statistics of the games, visit the team's NJCAA page.