Cassie Pelloni sets record in win over UIC

Matthew Saulino

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Sophomore Cassie Pelloni broke her own Horizon League record Friday, Nov. 15 with 26 kills for the Golden Grizzlies as Oakland University (14-14) beat UIC (8-21) in five sets. 

Pelloni set the record earlier this year and always knew she had a chance to outdo herself.

“I had 25 before, and my goal was always to beat it,” she said. “I did it for the team because we really needed this win.”

OU head coach Rob Beam was thrilled with the night’s performance from his girls.

“That match was about as good of volleyball that has been played in the O’rena in the seven years I’ve been here,” Beam said.

Oakland got off to a sluggish, start dropping the first set 25-20 to the Flames.

In the second, OU found themselves in a four-point hole early being down 6-2. They gained control just past the halfway point of the set building a 19-14 lead. The Grizzlies lost momentum, however, toward the end as UIC tied the score at 20 and then again at 24.

Oakland pulled out the set 26-24 after bringing in senior Alexis Rutter in for the set’s final serve, which led to the winning point.

Freshman Melissa Deatsch was crucial to the Grizzlies second set success with seven kills and six digs. 

“We’re nearing the end of our season so this is when we need to be peaking,” Deatsch said. “Every single match we need to go out with everything that we have.”

Deatsch finished the game with a double-double, 16 kills and 13 digs.

The third set Oakland got off to another slow start, where they couldn’t get the ball into a position comfortable with their offense, falling behind early 4-10. 

The Grizzlies mounted a comeback late and even took the lead at 22-21 when Deatsch served for four consecutive OU points.

The Grizzlies couldn’t hold on though, as UIC added a run of four for themselves and took the third set 25-22.

Taylor Humm made a play in the final set running back as far as the court would allow her to save the ball and eventually get the point for OU. The game kept going back and forth, with each team making plays to stay in it. 

OU was facing an elimination point when Deastch came up with a huge kill, followed by another by Cassie Pelloni.

Again the teams traded points with the Flames until Deatsch tried three kill attempts in one volley to finally get the point, and the win for the Grizzlies.

“No kill is all me, it’s the set. Just like no dig is all me, it’s the block,” Deatsch said. “Every kill or every dig I get, I owe to my team.”

OU needed every point they could taking the final set 19-17.

“This was a very closely contested match, I give a lot of credit to UIC, they played their hearts out,” Beam said. “It took everything our team had tonight to get the win.”

OU continued the excitement during the weekend with a win against Valparaiso, and Pelloni was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week.

OU is the No. 3 seed going into this week’s tournament Nov. 22-24 in Milwaukee. They will play No. 6 seed Cleveland State on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.