Scrimmage gives new players needed experience

After competing against each other in the Black and Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 22 at the O’Rena, the women’s volleyball team feels ready for the season ahead.

“It really helps to kick off the year,” said sophomore Jenna Lange.

The team split into a Black team and a Gold team and went head to head in a simulated match, complete with a referee, an announcer and a crowd of friends and family.

“It’s as close to a game environment as possible without another team being here,” said head coach Rob Beam.

Beam, who’s entering his third year as head coach at OU, said this was the most competitive scrimmage he’s seen. When picking teams, he said his only method was making the two teams as even as possible.

The Black team won the scrimmage, 2-1, but the match was very close and competitive throughout.

Samantha Filipek, a redshirt junior, said it was great to see the “strong incoming class” showing off their skills.

Freshman Alli Kirk, who played for the Gold team, led all players with 19 digs. 

Lange said that freshmen Meghan Bray, whose 11 kills led the Gold team, “really shined” and that the recruits are “meshing together well” with the rest of the team.

This year’s team features eight returning members and seven newcomers. 

Junior Brittany Dunn took over as primary libero for a few games last year when Lauren DuQuette, who has since graduated, was injured.

Beam said that he expects senior Adrienne Leone to have a breakout season at the outside hitter position. Filipek had double-digit assists in 23 of last year’s 29 matches as a setter and Lange started all last year as a middle hitter.

Beam said there isn’t an official starting lineup or depth chart for the season yet, but he’s playing with a few concepts and that there’s still some competition at a few spots.

“We have a very deep team, with so many players able to make a contribution,” Beam said.

Joining the team this year is Ashley Nevelle, from Caledonia, Mich. The 5-foot-11 inch setter transferred from Cincinnati at the semester.

“When I heard that she’s available and looking to transfer, I got in touch with her and her coaches,” said Beam, who had worked with Nevelle before. Beam said she’s tall and athletic and will “make a very big impact.”

OU was picked to finish eighth in the Summit League’s preseason poll, which Filipek said should “push us to prove the conference wrong.”

Beam attributed the low rank to their large incoming class, which he said is “talented, but unknown.” 

Citing that they’ve played on the biggest stages of club and high school-level volleyball, Beam said this year’s recruits will learn quickly and he expects his team to be in the race late in the season “when our freshmen won’t be freshmen anymore.”

“No question we can compete for a berth in the Summit League Tournament,” Beam said.

Hoping to improve on OU’s 8-21 record—5-11 in the Summit League— last year, Lange said, “We had too many ups and downs last year. We need to be more consistent.”

Before beginning conference play, OU will play host to Wright State, North Texas and Canisius at the Golden Grizzly Invitational Saturday and Sunday. The event is free to the public.

“We won our tournament in ’07, which upped our confidence,” said Beam. OU did not host the invitational last year.