Ottumwa, Iowa – It was long overdue and it didn't come easy, but the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team added a hard-earned road victory to their win column Monday night.
The Grizzlies, now 9-12, battled through five sets before defeating the Indian Hills Community College Warriors 26-24, 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-9 the Hellyer Center in Ottumwa, Iowa.
"This was a good road win," Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. "It's a hard place to travel to and pick up a win against a team that can play very well. I can't tell you how glad I am the girls battled through this one to get their first five-set win."
Frustrations continue early
The Grizzlies were down 2-1 going into the fourth set, and Wiedemann and assistant coach Briana Walsh were frustrated.
"They kept looking to us for answers, and we stopped talking and they started," Wiedemann said. "Players have this tendency to look to other people for the answers when they need to learn how to work together to make it happen. Bri and I are not on the court. They need to be talking and adjusting and doing the things that will make a difference on the court with each other. It's important for players to learn how to make these things happen."
The Grizzlies did just that in the fourth set, working through and fighting to send the game into a fifth and deciding set.
"They did a good job with it. They were doing what they needed to do to take control of the court and play better as a group," the coach said.
They also improved defensively. "We did some good things with blocking and defense, especially in the fourth set, that really helped us," Wiedemann said. "We played really good defense in the fifth set and controlled the tempo defensively, which created offense for us."
Same trio leads offense
Offensively, the Grizzlies were once again led by their outside hitters, freshmen Kelly Wiedemann and Camilly Cristiny, and opposite Trifkovic. Kelly Wiedemann led all attackers with 21 kills on 47 attempts with seven errors for a .298 attacking percentage. Cristiny added 14 kills, and Trifkovic recorded 11.
"These three have been consistent for us the last month, and it's needed," Coach Wiedemann said. "Kelly produced a lot of points for us last night. You can definitely see the consistency in Kelly's stat line in each set last night. This is what you need. Not starting off hot and then struggling, or the other way around. She, Milly and T continue to bring something that makes a difference."
Freshman setter Julia Dunning added 50 assists to her tally for the season. "Julia did a nice job of creating situations where we can take good swings in or out of system," Coach Wiedemann said.
Monday's win was a milestone for the Grizzlies. "This was our first five-set win this year, which is big. They were excited at the end of the game, and they needed to be. Last night, they took the wheel and started driving the bus. Now, we need to see what they do with it," Coach Wiedemann said.
Grizzly Invitational set for this weekend
Coaches, players and fans will soon find out when the Grizzlies host the Grizzly Invitational Volleyball Tournament Friday and Saturday at the West Plains Civic Center. Joining the Grizzlies on the court will be No. 13 Tyler Junior College, Tyler, Texas; No. 16 Panola College, Carthage, Texas; Hutchinson Community College, Hutchinson, Kansas; Jefferson College, Hillsboro; and Indian Hills.
On Friday, the Grizzlies will play Tyler at 11 a.m. and Panola at 5 p.m. Saturday, they will face Hutchinson at 5 p.m. and Indian Hills at 7 p.m.
Coach Wiedemann admitted the Grizzlies will have their hands full again this weekend. "I told them last week, 'How fair would it be for us to try to prepare you for something less than what it's going to be like at the end of the season?' It's a lot of hard games you need to be able to put together, and you have to love the hard to be able to do it."
The tournament is being sponsored by Colton's Steak House & Grill and Lazy W Pallets.