Volleyball falls 3-0 to LSU on “Overflow the O” day

More than 1,000 fans filled the O’Rena as the “Overflow the O” game took place on Saturday, Sept 8. The volleyball team attempted to set the attendance record against the 51st ranked (via herosports.com) Louisiana State University Tigers.

At 1,042, the crowd fell just short of the record, ranking second all time for a volleyball crowd at the O’Rena. Despite not breaking the record, the crowd still was fired up for their Golden Grizzlies, who lost in straight sets 3-0.

“It was the best experience I have had playing at home so far,” sophomore Jaime Walling said. “It is so cool to play in front of everyone you know and have them see an intense volleyball game. Looking around and seeing other teams and friends pulling for you is very humbling. For me, I love playing in front of people and giving them something fun to watch and I hope everyone keeps coming back, we appreciated all of the support so much.

From set one to three, the team improved greatly. LSU took the first set 25-17, but the third set ended as a 25-23 victory for them. However, this steady improvement was not enough to overcome the Tigers, who played as a cohesive unit and finished sets strong. In both the first and second sets, the game was back and forth before LSU would pull away at the end of the set.

Oakland at one point held a 15-14 lead going into a timeout, but the Tigers would come out of the timeout with a kill. After more back and forth play, the Golden Grizzlies had a 22-21 lead, but LSU would go on a 3-1 run and put the game away.

LSU topped Oakland in just about every statistical category, with the biggest discrepancies in the stat sheet being the assists and kills. LSU recorded 45 kills to Oakland’s 31, and LSU recorded a 41-29 advantage in the assist column.

“In the end I think it came down to grit and execution,” Walling said. “Having a six foot six girl who touches 11 feet helps too. I think they were cleaner and were playing the game better at the end of sets than we did. This weekend gave us a wake up call on things we need to work on and continue to improve on. When we are more intense, focus longer, and execute better, we have nothing in our way.”

Walling was the stat leader for the Golden Grizzlies in a 3-0 defeat, recording nine kills, three digs and six blocks. Walling, the Horizon League Player of the week for Aug 20-26, provided consistency for the Oakland offensive attack.

The defense was anchored by senior Jordan Massab, who led the team in digs with nine. Overall, the team played strong on both offense and defense, but they were unable to answer LSU’s runs late in sets. This proved to be the difference in a game that was closer than the box score of three sets to zero would suggest.

This match wrapped up the Michigan Challenge, which Oakland went 0-3 in. Lindsay Wightman was named to the All-Tournament team for the Michigan Challenge, making her the only Golden Grizzly to receive that honor.

“I took away a lot of learning points for myself and the team,” Walling said. “I feel really good about our chances this weekend at the Redhawk Invitational. We are playing teams comparable to our conference so I really think we have a chance to go in and dominate. We definitely have the chance to bring home another title.”

The Golden Grizzlies’ next home game will be on Saturday, Sept 22 as they face off against Horizon League rival Youngstown State University.