17th ranked Grizzlies will meet No. 2 Iowa Western in season home opener

Members of the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team are arranged by row in front of the net on the court floor. They include front row from left, Kaleigh Breathitt, Springdale, Ark.; Emily Moore, Aurora; Kamryn Artale, Springfield; Kelly Wiedemann, West Plains; and Monika Leon, Hayward, Calif. Second row: Julia Dunning, Queensland, Australia; Strength and Conditioning Coach Keri Elrod; Head Coach Paula Wiedemann; Assistant Coach Briana Walsh; and Gabriela Boneva, Sofia, Bulgaria. Back row: Yileen Ng He, Colon, Panama; Ella Akkerman, Tauranga, New Zealand; Keziah Williams, Branson; Tatjana Trifkovic, Belgrade, Serbia; Camilly Cristiny, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Jahcey Farmer, Springfield. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)
MEMEBERS OF THE 2018 Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team include front row from left, Kaleigh Breathitt, Emily Moore, Kamryn Artale, Kelly Wiedemann and Monika Leon. Second row: Julia Dunning, Strength and Conditioning Coach Keri Elrod, Head Coach Paula Wiedemann, Assistant Coach Briana Walsh, and Gabriela Boneva. Back row: Yileen Ng He, Ella Akkerman, Keziah Williams, Tatjana Trifkovic, Camilly Cristiny, and Jahcey Farmer, Springfield. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

West Plains, Mo. – Saturday's season home opener for the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team will feature a contest of nationally-ranked teams.

In the first NJCAA poll of the regular season Wednesday, the Grizzlies (6-3) were ranked 17th and their opponent for Saturday's game, the Iowa Western Community College Reivers (8-1) from Council Bluffs, were ranked No. 2.

The Reivers' only loss came at the hands of the two-time defending national champion and current No. 1 Miami Dade College in the Polk State College Invitational Tournament this past weekend in Winter Haven, Florida.

"We are excited about being ranked in the first regular season poll," Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. "We know it is always a big game when you have two ranked teams playing each other.

"Iowa Western is a traditional top 10, top five team, so you have to be excited about the opportunity to play teams like this," she continued. "We will see them three times over the course of the regular season, and we know they will be a tough game every time we step on the floor."

Admission to Saturday's game, sponsored by Hirsch Feed & Farm Supply, is free. 

Grizzly Booster Club Fall Picnic

Prior to the game, the Grizzly Booster Club will host its annual fall picnic beginning at 5 p.m. in the civic center exhibit hall. A free complimentary meal will be served to the first 500 people who attend. Almost Famous Grille & BBQ is sponsoring the picnic.

Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp and Grizzly Cheer Team Coach Jason Harrill will be on hand to introduce the basketball and cheer team members, respectively, and give previews of the upcoming seasons.

All Grizzly fans, not just Grizzly Booster Club members, are encouraged to attend the picnic and enjoy the festivities, organizers stress.

Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

The evening also will include the induction of two former members of the Grizzly Volleyball team to the Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame. Felicia Jones (2003-04) and Courtney Hendrickson (2004-05), will be recognized between the second and third sets of the game. Hendrickson also served as assistant coach of the volleyball team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

"I am so excited about Felicia and Courtney being back to be recognized for what they did as players in our program," Wiedemann said. "Their induction in the Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame is something special, and I know they have so many great memories of their time here at Missouri State-West Plains. I love the fact that they were teammates for a year and are being inducted together."

East Central Game

The Grizzlies will go into Saturday's contest after defeating East Central College 25-22, 25-15, 25-16 at Union in a Missouri Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC) game.

"East Central played well in the first set and we just watched them play well until the final three points, then we took over," Wiedemann said. "We took control and started playing through points, had a good transition game going, and they couldn't keep up."

Statistics from the game show the Grizzlies put forth a balanced attack. Four players scored 10 or more kills. Sophomore middle attacker Keziah Williams recorded 11 while sophomore right side attacker Tatjana Trifkovic and freshmen outside hitters Camilly Cristiny and Kelly Wiedemann each had 10.

Cristiny also had a .428 hitting efficiency, and Kelly Wiedemann recorded three aces.

Sophomore libero Kamryn Artale had 13 digs, sophomore middle attacker Yileen Ng He had three blocks, and freshman setter Julia Dunning had 43 assists.

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