A lack of preseason scrimmages may have played a role in the Missouri State University-West Plains' Grizzlies' season opening loss Saturday to Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill.
The Lady Grizzlies (0-1) fell to the Lady Lakers 27-30, 30-16, 28-30, 26-30 in a volleyball contest between two "evenly matched" teams, Grizzlies Head Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight said.
"We didn't get a chance to scrimmage much before the season started, so we didn't get a chance to trouble-shoot and address the weaknesses that would have been revealed in those scrimmages," Knight said. Some problems were revealed when the team faced Grizzly alumni in the annual alumni match on Aug. 20, but in the past, the Grizzlies have scrimmaged other colleges prior to the first match of the season, and those didn't take place this year.
Still, Knight said she was pleased with several factors of the match.
"We passed the ball well, and our outside hitters played great, but our middle hitters are inexperienced," she said. "It was a good match. The teams were pretty evenly matched, but we had trouble in the middle blocking and hitting."
Sophomore outside attacker Amy Lusk led the team in several categories, including kills (16), attacking percentage (.378), passing rating (2.66), digs (16) and points earned (17). Sophomore outside attacker Courtney Hendrickson had 14 kills, a passing rating of 2.46, 14 digs and 17 points earned. Sophomore setter Candace Saleaumua led the team in assists with 37.
Freshman attacker Justina Begemann led the team in blocks with six, including four solos, and sophomore libero Bethany Propst led the team in service aces with three.
"Courtney and Amy played really well, and Candace had a good match," Knight said. "Beth, playing at libero, got off to a slow start, but she eventually came around and played well, too."
"Lake Land will be one of the better teams in the nation this year," Knight predicted, adding, "They're a very good team. We'll meet them again in the Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic Tournament of Champions Sept. 16-17 here in West Plains."