Mental errors and the reputation of the Miami-Dade College Lady Sharks kept the Missouri State University-West Plains Lady Grizzlies from a first place trophy at the Jefferson College Invitational Tournament Oct. 7-8 in Hillsboro, Mo.
The eighth-ranked Lady Grizzlies (22-7) fell to the second-ranked Lady Sharks 34-36, 30-19, 9-15 in the tournament's championship match Oct. 8 after winning five straight matches at the event. Third place went to Barton County Community College, Great Bend, Kan., and fourth was a tie between host Jefferson College and Iowa Western Community College of Council Bluffs.
"We beat ourselves against Miami-Dade," Missouri State-West Plains Head Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight said. "We missed a serve to start the third game and made several other errors that allowed them to win. We had opportunities in the first game to put that one away, too, but we didn't do it. We made a couple of bad choices by setting the wrong person. We need to learn to do the smart thing in those situations. I think we definitely have a mental issue when we play Miami-Dade, but we also didn't do ourselves any favors."
The Lady Grizzlies started the tournament with a hard-fought win over 13th-ranked Barton County Oct. 7, taking the match 30-15, 27-30, 15-13. They then came back and beat 10th-ranked Iowa Western 30-20, 30-23 later that same day. In their last match Oct. 7, the Grizzlies downed Schoolcraft College 30-15, 30-19. Saturday, Missouri State-West Plains faced another tough opponent in 20th-ranked Eastern Arizona and won 30-21, 20-30, 15-7, then downed Illinois Central, ranked fifth in Division II, 30-18, 30-16 before facing Miami-Dade in the championship.
"We had a good match against Barton, and Iowa Western was a good team, too. Eastern Arizona gave us fits. They had a stretch where they dug everything we threw at them," Knight said. "But everyone's going to battle you when you're one of the top teams around. Our kids are going to have to learn to play hard in every single match."
Three Lady Grizzlies were named to the all-tournament team. They were sophomore setter Candace Saleaumua, freshman setter/attacker Luiza Jaroka and freshman middle attacker Joelle Mafo.