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Grizzly middle attacker Torika Balielekutu goes up for a kill during Monday’s match with Seminole State College at the West Plains Civic Center. Looking on are right side attacker Candyce Alexander (No. 9) and setter Sarah Stretch (No. 3). (Missouri State-West Plains/Driskell)

(West Plains) – A rash of hitting errors cost the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team a win over Seminole State College of Seminole, Okla., Monday evening, Oct. 29, in its final regular season match at the West Plains Civic Center.

The Grizzlies, now 23-9, fell to the Trojans 27-25, 25-23, 17-25, 17-25, 14-16 in the teams’ sixth meeting this season. The Grizzlies, currently ranked 12th in the nation, had defeated the Trojans in the five previous contests.

“This match was almost identical to our first match Sept. 22 at the tournament in Hutchinson, except for the score,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. “It was a back and forth battle, too, but last night’s performance by Seminole was, by far, the best they’ve played since our first meeting. I expected to have that kind of match with them each time we played this season, but we were able to take them out of their game in the previous matches.”

The opposite seemed to be true Monday night, as the Grizzlies tried to keep up with the Trojans, and their hitting did not help their cause. As a team, the Grizzlies had an attacking percentage of only .085. Out of 188 swings taken, 42 resulted in errors while 58 found their mark.

“This was not a typical match for us. Our hitting errors absolutely killed us. We haven’t had a team attacking percentage like that at all this season,” Wiedemann said. “It was like we were swinging for all or nothing, and we got a lot of all and we got a lot of nothing.”

Freshman outside attacker Helena Peric led the team in kills with 17, followed by freshman middle attacker Torika Balielekutu with 13 and sophomore right side attacker Candyce Alexander with 11. Peric also led the team in service aces with five and points earned with 23.

Freshman libero Victoria Williams led the team in passing rating with 2.82 and in digs with 19. Alexander was close behind Williams in digs with 18. Baleilekutu paced the Grizzlies defensively at the net with three blocks, including two solos. Freshman setter Sarah Stretch had 52 assists.

Wiedemann said the Grizzlies spent a lot of time talking about what happened on the court following the match and cleared the air on some nagging issues that had creeped into their play. “They’ve let some distractions creep in the last couple of weeks and have just gone through the motions at times. They work hard, that’s not the issue, but they need to remember the process creates the result. You have to take those steps that make up the process to stay focused on the job at hand,” the coach explained.

Wiedemann believes a different Grizzly team will take the court this weekend in the NJCAA Region 16/District N Championships at Park Hills, Mo. “I think this week will be very productive. We’ll get back on track with what makes a good team better. They’ll be more focused on how they go about doing things instead of just the result,” she said.

As first seed in Region 16, the Grizzlies will meet the winner of Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal match between Jefferson College of Hillsboro and Mineral Area College from Park Hills at noon Saturday. “Jefferson has beat Mineral Area twice this season, but it’s still anyone’s game. We need to be ready to play either team,” Wiedemann said.

The Region 16 winner will then play the winner of Regions 15 (southern New York and Long Island) and 20 (parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland), Harford Community College from Bel Air, Md., for the District N Championship at 6 p.m. Saturday in Park Hills. This is the first year the Region 16 winner will have to play a district match to determine who will advance to the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Volleyball Championship Tournament Nov. 15-17 in West Plains, Wiedemann said. In the past, the Region 16 winner received an automatic berth to the national tournament, but NJCAA officials made several changes to the playoff process during the off season, Wiedemann explained.

The coach also said she would like to thank Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic for sponsoring the “Dig for a Cure” activities at Monday’s match. Proceeds from fundraisers during the match will go toward breast cancer research and education. “We really appreciate the support they show our program throughout the season. This was the fifth annual ‘Dig for a Cure’ event, and it has become bigger and better each year. We love being a part of it,” Wiedemann said.

For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, including a copy of the 2012 schedule, visit the team’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/vb/.

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