First Summit League Championship Appearance Highlights 2011 for Oakland Volleyball
The Golden Grizzles set a school record with 18 wins.
Dec. 19, 2011
ROCHESTER, Mich.- After two years of falling short of the postseason, the 2011 Oakland volleyball team became the first team to reach The Summit League Championship. This group of Golden Grizzlies rewrote the record book and and traveled further than any other team in school history since turning Division I in 1999.
"This was a great year for us especially after achieving so many first and continuing the five-year growth of the program," said head coach Rob Beam. "I am very proud of our team especially with the stretch run we had at the end to make the conference tournament showed the confidence and maturity of this team that came from our seniors and captains."
OU looked to play its best volleyball of the season down the stretch as the team won six consecutive matches to clinch a spot in its first conference tournament. At The Summit League Tournament, Oakland's season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to No.1 seed and eventual champion North Dakota State in the semi-finals. Meghan Bray became the first Oakland player to earn Summit League All-Tournament honors after recording 19 kills and 10 digs.
Oakland finished third in the country in digs per set averaging 18.64 digs per set as the back line was led by Alli Kirk who ranked 22nd in the country averaging 5.43 digs per set. She finished the year with 603 digs to become only the second player in school history to record over 600 digs in a single-season.
Helping in the back court were Bray and Taylor Humm who finished the year second and third on the team in digs per set. Becca Means and Jillian Kulka played major roles as defensive specialists finishing the season with 2.09 and 1.30 digs per set respectively.
Offensively, Bray led the way breaking her own school records as she finished the season with 389 kills and 1,162 attempts. Oakland had one of the strongest group of middle hitters in The Summit League as Allison Bell, Jenna Lange and Brittany Holbrook were top-four on the team in total kills. Each player had at least a .247 hitting percentage. Humm ranked third on the team with 2.39 kills per set.
Running the offense for the Golden Grizzlies were Alissa Valentine and Ashley Nevelle. Valentine averaged 6.81 assists per set and 2.24 digs per set while Nevelle averaged 6.73 assists per set. The two setters combined for 1,179 assists and 10.62 assists good for the second most in a single season in school history.
One of the best moments of the 2011 season was when Bray earned her 1,000th career kill and Kirk recorded her 1,000th career dig in the same match against Southern Utah on Oct. 29 in the O'rena. Both players became the first juniors and third Golden Grizzlies ever to reach the millennium mark for their respective statistical category.
"To have it happen to two players on the same day, in the same class is really unique" added Beam. "From the moment each of them stepped onto campus I thought both of them could reach the thousand plateau and perhaps beyond."
Oakland graduated five seniors in 2011: Bell, Lange, Nevelle, Katie Horling and Lauren Milosek. Bell and Lange leave Oakland as the winningest four-year seniors in Oakland's Division I history with 60 wins. Lange finishes her career as the all-time sets played leader with 412.
The Golden Grizzlies finished the season 18-10, the most wins in the Division I era, and were 12-6 in Summit League play, tied for the most league wins. The team tied for third place in the league regular season standings.
OU will look to continue the success of the 2011 season as they look to become a standard fixture at The Summit League Championships for years to come.