Oakland wins Grizzly Invitational



The Oakland University women’s volleyball team treated fans to not one, but two victories, en route to winning the Golden Grizzlies Invitational.

Oakland defeated Central Michigan in five sets on Sept. 2 and then beat Wright State for the second time this season, in straight sets in their second game on Sept. 3.

Beating a team from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) like Central Michigan was important for the Grizzlies after previously losing to two other MAC teams, Toledo and Eastern Michigan earlier in the season in the Blue and Gold Invitational.

“I thought we matched up really well with them, which is good because the top of our league is very similar to their type of play,” head coach Rob Beam said. “I felt really good about the match; I thought the home crowd environment was spectacular, and we’re looking forward to continuing to build forward off of competitive wins like that.”

Against Wright State, the Grizzlies put more emphasis on remaining sharp throughout the match on their way to winning in straight sets.

“We were really focused on not coming out flat because that was our problem in the past,” junior Alli Kirk said, in reference to the team’s preparation. “We did a lot of dancing actually, which helps everyone get pumped and it was a lot of fun.”

Kirk’s ability and effort diving to make the tough digs defensively enabled the team to maintain momentum throughout the match.

Overall, Beam was pleased with the team performance against the Wright State team, who they managed to beat for the second time this season.

“It was great to see our team come out very composed and steady in the third set and sustain a high level of play,” he said.

Junior Meghan Bray, who last season lead Oakland in kills and kills per set, once again proved to be an offensive force by recording 15 kills against Central and 11 kills against Wright State.

She also contributed defensively with a combined 18 digs on her way to being named to her second All-Tournament Team selection in as many weeks.

This marked the second straight week that Bray was named to an All-Tournament team after also receiving the same honors at the Blue-Gold Invitational two weekends ago in Toledo.

“We have a great bunch of girls, so to be chosen is a big honor,” said Bray.

Sophomore Alissa Valentine was also named to the All-Tournament team after recording 79 assists and eight total blocks throughout the two matches.

“Alissa Valentine has really stepped up this year,” junior Brittany Holbrook said. “She’s setting the ball the right way, if not, she’s very approachable in telling to go higher or lower and she’s awesome to work with.”

Though Holbrook was not named to the All-Tournament Team, she played an important part in helping OU secure the Golden Grizzlies Invitational.

In six matches this season, Holbrook has recorded 10 or more kills in four of them, including 12 against Central Michigan.

The elevation of her play has been very important as the team is using a new play scheme that utilizes the size of the team.

Being a 6-1 middle hitter, Holbrook is one of the main components of this lineup alongside fellow middle hitters, Jenna Lange and Katie Horling.

“I just try to go in with a mind set of being relaxed but confidant and trusting my teammates and doing all of the little things,” Holbrook explained.

The Golden Grizzlies, after winning the tournament, improved their record to 4-2 for the season.

The volleyball team will head to Iowa City, Iowa to take part in the Hawkeye Challenge against Loyola on Sept. 9, and Chicago State and Iowa on Sept. 10 before starting Summitt League play.