Grizzlies finish regular season, prepare to host Region 16 Championships

FIVE MEMBERS of the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team were recognized for their contributions to the program prior to Wednesday’s home game against East Central College. From left are setter/outside attacker Julia Dunning, defensive specialist Priscilla Crowell, outside/middle attacker Camilly Cristiny, libero Emily Moore and outside attacker Kelly Wiedemann. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)
FIVE MEMBERS of the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team were recognized for their contributions to the program prior to Wednesday’s home game against East Central College. From left are setter/outside attacker Julia Dunning, defensive specialist Priscilla Crowell, outside/middle attacker Camilly Cristiny, libero Emily Moore and outside attacker Kelly Wiedemann. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team finished its regular season Wednesday evening with a straight set victory over East Central College.

The Grizzlies (15-18) defeated the Falcons 25-18, 25-18, 25-9 at the West Plains Civic Center.

Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann was proud of her team's effort in the Missouri Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC) contest.

"The way we went about playing last night was good. We didn't back off when we could have and just kept playing hard," she said.

"We controlled the game and controlled the tempo. We play so well together when we support each other," she added. "I'm really proud of where we are right now and what I know we're able to do moving forward, if we continue to do the things that work."

Recognition of sophomores

Prior to the game, the Grizzlies and their fans recognized the team's five sophomores – libero/defensive specialist Priscilla Crowell, Houston, Texas; middle/outside attacker Camilly Cristiny, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; setter/outside attacker Julia Dunning, Queensland, Australia; libero/defensive specialist Emily Moore, Aurora; and outside attacker Kelly Wiedemann, West Plains.

"It's a weird feeling for me," Coach Wiedemann admitted. "Sophomore night is always special, and it's something Kelly has watched year after year. She knows how much I care about our players, and for her to be among them…it's gone by so fast, much faster than I wanted it to.

"I'm so proud of all of them. I couldn't be happier where they are in this journey and what they are doing with it. When they are in it for each other, it's fun to watch," the coach added.

The sophomores led the way statistically. Wiedemann recorded 19 kills, a .548 attacking percentage and 21.5 points earned. Cristiny wasn't far behind with 12 kills, a .478 attacking percentage and 13.5 points earned. Dunning dished out 43 assists, and Moore led the team in digs with 12 and passing rating with 2.80.

"Milly, Kelly, Emily and Julia did a great job last night. I just wish Priscilla could have been a part of it," Coach Wiedemann said.

Crowell suffered a head injury against Mineral Area College last week and was still under concussion protocol guidelines Wednesday.

"She's been feeling good, and we're thankful it wasn't any worse than it was," Coach Wiedemann said. "She continues to bring such a positive vibe to our team, and I hate we couldn't have her in the game."

Freshman middle blocker Najla Bray led the Grizzlies defensively at the net with 2.5 blocks, including two solo blocks, and freshman defensive specialist Allisann Nichols recorded two service aces.

Pink Out Night

In addition to being Sophomore Night, the evening served as Pink Out Night in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink T-shirts with the words "Believe There's Hope for a Cure" were available for purchase at the game, with proceeds going to Ozark Medical Center's Cancer Treatment Center.

Coach Wiedemann said those who were unable to attend the game can still purchase T-shirts. Sizes range from adult XXL to youth small. Call 417-255-7950 or email PaulaWiedemann@MissouriState.edu to place an order.

The game also supported the Samaritan Outreach Center food drive hosted by the Student Government Association, Student Nurses Association and the Phi Beta Lambda student business organization. Fans who brought six non-perishable food items were given free admission to the game. Approximately 1,000 items were collected in the drive, Coach Wiedemann said.

Following the action, the Grizzlies hosted a pizza party for university students to show their appreciation for the students' support throughout the season. "We have such great fans! Our student section is always fun and so into it! It makes for a great atmosphere to play in," Coach Wiedemann said.

Region 16 tournament

Now, the Grizzlies are setting their sights on the NJCAA Region 16 Championship Tournament Friday and Saturday at the West Plains Civic Center.

The Grizzlies (15-18) are seeded first in the two-day event, followed by second seeded Jefferson College (15-12) and third seeded Mineral Area College (16-10).

Jefferson and MAC will face off in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The winner will face the Grizzlies at noon Saturday.

Tickets are $5 each for adults and $2 for students payable at the door.

"This is a big weekend for us," Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. "We understood that picking up one of the two region games last week would give us the No. 1 seed in the region and would automatically send us into the district tournament. Knowing what you are working toward is important, and knowing what makes things happen for you as a team is just as important. We have to keep working every day to put ourselves in the best position moving forward."

For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, including the full schedule, visit its website at https://www.msuwpgrizzlies.com/sports/wvball/index.