The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team made its last game of the regular season against Indian Hills Community College its best.
The Grizzlies (9-17) fought hard and took the No. 7 Warriors (26-3) to five sets before falling 25-17, 16-25, 26-24, 22-25, 8-15 Wednesday night in Ottumwa, Iowa.
"This is, by far, the best we've played against Indian Hills this season," Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. "Even though it's a loss in five, we were in the fight with a really good team and feel we can move forward and do some good things."
In two of the three previous meetings between the teams this season, the Grizzlies lost in three straight sets, and the losses weren't pretty. The Grizzlies often found themselves in a hole early in those games and unable to dig themselves out.
This time, however, they kept the game closer and fought for points.
"We fought as a team like we did against Hutch," Wiedemann said, referring to their last game of the Grizzly Invitational Tournament Saturday against Hutchinson Community College. "We put a better game together, and the feel on the court was different. We can build on this feel, compared to where we were."
Improvements in offense, defense
The Grizzlies showed improvement both offensively and defensively.
"Offensively, we were way more efficient as a whole. We took a lot of really good swings to earn points and to keep them out of system, which is big against them," Wiedemann said.
Leading the way was freshman outside attacker Maju Loureiro with 18 kills, followed by sophomore outside/middle attacker Camilly Cristiny with 15, and sophomore outside attacker Kelly Wiedemann with 12.
Loureiro also turned in the best attacking percentage of the night at .326 and the best passing rating at 2.33.
Road trip next week
The Grizzlies will take the day off before preparing for next week's road trip, which includes key games against Region 16 opponents Mineral Area College and Jefferson College.
They will face the Cardinals at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Park Hills then travel to Hillsboro to face the Vikings at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
They will remain in Hillsboro Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26, to compete in the Jefferson College Invitational. Friday, they will face Vincennes University at 2 p.m. and Illinois Central College at 6. Saturday, they will play John A. Logan College 10 a.m. and Iowa Western Community College at noon.
"We have back-to-back region games next week, which is big, so we'll rest today and return to practice Friday," Coach Wiedemann said. "We'll be ready next week to continue to put good things together in practice, which will lead to putting more things together in games. We can't get better in games if we don't get better in practice."
For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, including the full schedule, visit its website at https://www.msuwpgrizzlies.com/sports/wvball/index.