Volleyball rallies to beat Green Bay in dramatic homecoming clash

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Maggie Willard

Haley Brown gets ready to serve against Green Bay on Oct. 10.

The Oakland University volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 deficit in five sets to beat the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in a dramatic home game on Oct. 10, improving to 5-2 on the season, and fourth in the Horizon League standings.

Led by middle hitter Jaime Walling’s 20 points, the Golden Grizzlies overcame a feisty Green Bay Phoenix team as they battled back from an even series to take the series three sets to two.

The first set of the afternoon saw the Golden Grizzlies go up 13-9 before ultimately pulling away to secure a 25-14 victory. The second set was the most competitive out of the series and saw Oakland lead as much as five before going back and forth until Green Bay capitalized on a mistake and saw them go up by two, and securing the set 29-27 — evening the series 1-1.

In the third set, Green Bay started with seven unanswered points and pulled away to win the set 25-14, putting them up 2-1 in the series. Oakland answered back in set four, beating Green Bay 25-14 and evening the series at 2.

The final set featured an early lead from Oakland, who pulled away and won 15-5, which won the series 3-2. Oakland led both teams in scoring, taking the advantage 106-87. 

The game advantage came from Oakland’s aggressive scoring, only giving up 13 attack errors to Green Bay’s 30. Both teams were tied in total assists with 54. Oakland had the major advantage in defense, narrowly winning the battle with 65 digs to 59, and winning in blocks 11-6. 

Both were even on blocking errors and reception errors, with one and 7 each respectively. Setter AnnaBelle Tomei leads Oakland with 28 assists, though opposing Setter Calli Gentry led both teams with 49 total assists.

Oakland’s Walling, outside hitter Patti Cesarini, and middle blocker Jessica Riedl combined for 50 of the teams 108 points as defensive specialist Lindsay Wightman led both teams with a game-high 21 digs, accounting for nearly one-third of the team’s total.

The Golden Grizzlies won a competitive match before they start a three-game road trip beginning with Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis on Oct. 12th. Oakland is 5-2 on the season and looks to improve after a 7-9 finish in the spring season that was shortened by the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Their next match-ups feature a winless IUPUI team as they look to upset Oakland for their first win of the season, and a match with Western Kentucky, who is currently second in the Horizon League. The Golden Grizzlies have won two straight after losing the previous two games.

Head Coach Rob Beam, currently in his 15th season, looks to lead a promising Golden Grizzlies team to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2014, as well as their first winning record since 2019. Led on the court by Wightman, who is the first All Region First Team member in school history, the team hopes to be at top of the Horizon League by season’s end.