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(West Plains) – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team picked up a “good win” Wednesday night, Sept. 18, against Redlands Community College, El Reno, Okla., at the Joe Paul Evans Arena in the West Plains Civic Center.

The Grizzlies, now 5-9, defeated the Cougars in three straight sets, 25-12, 25-16, 25-21. They will travel to Hutchinson, Kan., this weekend to compete in the Hutchinson Community College Invitational where they will face ninth ranked Iowa Western Community College of Council Bluffs at 2 p.m. Friday and formerly-ranked New Mexico Military Institute of Roswell at 6 p.m. that same day. On Saturday, the Grizzlies will face a rematch with Redlands at 9 a.m. then take the court against Seminole (Okla.) State College at 3 p.m.

Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann was very pleased with her team’s performance Wednesday night. “We produced more and gave up less, which made a big difference,” she said. “Being able to create a gap in the score and maintain it, that’s where our issues have been. Hopefully, we can build on this win.”

The Grizzlies got off to a strong start in the first set. “We played extremely well in that first set, but we knew Redlands was a better team than the way they played in that set,” she said. “They eventually started passing the ball better and getting into their offense, but the nice thing is we adjusted to it and took care of the ball”

“I was really proud of the fact we finished the game in three sets, especially since Torika (Balielekutu) went down at the end of the second set with an injury to her knee,” the coach continued. “We took a time out and evaluated her, but she went back in and finished the game. During intermission, we had a chance to evaluate her some more, and she said she definitely wanted to play, so we decided to see how she looked on the floor. Redlands tried to take advantage of her, but she held strong and had a couple of kills and a great block. She’s tough minded and doesn’t ever complain, but I know she was hurting through that last set.”

The sophomore middle attacker finished the night with seven kills, 1.5 blocks, three digs, a .333 attacking percentage, a 3.0 passing rating and 8.5 points earned.

Wiedemann also praised the efforts of sophomore setter/defensive specialist Laiz Novaes and freshman defensive specialist Paris Witte. “Laiz led us in digs and did a good job controlling the ball for us defensively, and Paris did a fantastic job coming in to serve and play defense for Torika in the third set. She scored several points serving and made a huge dig that allowed us to separate a little bit at the end of the third game.”

Novaes had 15 digs for the night. Other statistical leaders included sophomore outside attacker Helena Peric, who had 19 kills, a .368 attacking percentage, two aces and 21 points earned; freshman setter Brianna Zebert, who had 32 assists; and freshman middle attacker Leondra Barrett, who had two solo blocks.

Wiedemann said she would like to thank the game sponsors, Burton Creek Medical Clinic and NAPA Auto Parts. “We can’t do what we do without the support of our game sponsors,” she said. She also reported the team’s community service project, the collection of snacks for the West Plains Area Boys and Girls Club, was a success and greatly appreciated by officials with the organization.

For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, visit the team’s website at

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