Golden Grizzlies Face New Challenges In 1999For the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies, the 1999 volleyball season begins with high hopes and great expectations. The 1998 season marked OUís first as a Division I competitor, and the 1999 season marks Oaklandís first as an eligible team for the Mid-Continent Conference championship.
In season number one as a Division I school, Oakland finished with an 8-19 record overall and was 7-7 in the Mid-Con. The 7-7 record was good for fourth place, unofficially, in the conference.
Whether it was unofficial or official, the fourth place mark gives the Golden Grizzlies goals for the 1999 season.
"We did lose a few pertinent players from last year, but we return four starters," head coach Ed Tolentino said. "One of our goals this year will be to improve on our overall record and our standing in the conference."
Tolentino is in his first year as the head coach of the Golden Grizzlies and served the past two seasons as an assistant coach at OU.
"It is an opportunity of a lifetime," Tolentino said. "I am looking forward to working with the team again this year. Oakland is an up-and-coming program at the Division I level and success is definitely within reach."
Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies will be seniors Erica Brown (East Lansing) and Karin Reed (Canton) and juniors Andrea Cothren (Muncie, IN), Kim Shetler (Bay City), Jaime Puckett (Rockford) and Lisa Matwijiw (North Olmstead, OH).
Brown and Reed serve as defensive specialists for the Golden Grizzlies. Reed, along with Cothren, will serve as OUís captains.
Brown played in 87 games last season for OU and had four kills in 28 chances. She had 10 service aces and 125 digs. Reed, who battled knee injuries last season, played in 26 games for the Golden Grizzlies as a junior. She saw all of her action in the back row as a defensive specialist, had two assists and 28 digs on the season.
Cothren played in 93 games as the starting OU setter in 1998 and led the team with 922 assists. She tallied 19 service aces, 86 kills and 45 blocks, fourth best on the squad. She established a 9.91 assists per game average, sixth best in the Mid-Continent Conference.
Shetler, a backup setter, saw action in 1998 primarily as a defensive specialist and finished third on the squad with 184 digs. She played in 88 games for the Golden Grizzlies, had four kills and recorded 13 assists on the year. Shetler was fifth on the team with 12 service aces.
Puckett, a middle blocker, redshirted in 1998 and Matwijiw is another defensive specialist for the Grizzlies. Matwijiw played in 44 games last season and recorded five kills, had 11 service aces, four assists and 32 digs.
Leading the way at the net for Oakland will be sophomores Tess Pierce (Yorkville, IL), Clo Porter (Battle Creek) and Carmen Trippett (Albion).
Pierce finished ninth in the Mid-Con with a 0.85 blocks per game average. She recorded 69 total blocks as a freshman and had 133 kills. Pierce played in 81 of the 93 games for Oakland and had a hitting percentage of .223, fourth on the squad. She led the team in solo blocks with 23 and was third on the team in block assists with 46.
Porter saw limited action as a true freshman and recorded 13 kills. She played in 19 games for the Golden Grizzlies and had two assists, three blocks and six digs.
Trippett played in 76 games and recorded 91 kills and 59 blocks, which was third best on the team. She had 13 assists, one service ace and 57 digs on the season.
Also seeing action in 1999 will be sophomore defensive specialist Tunisha Foley (Clinton Twp.). Foley is a 1998 graduate of Clintondale High School where earned two letters in volleyball. Foley was named all-League in volleyball in 1997 and 1998 and was volleyball all-County fourth team in 1997 and third team in 1998.
The Golden Grizzlies have an exciting schedule in place for the 1999 season. OU will face Mid-American Conference schools Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Bowling Green, in addition to the seven Mid-Continent Conference schools.
OU is also slated to play in the West Virginia Tournament, September 2-4, the Robert Morris Colonial Classic, September 11-12, and the Wright State Tournament, September 17-18.
"I feel that we have a very exciting schedule lined up for this year," Tolentino said. "If we come together this year and continue building on the Division I success, then I think we have a chance at the Mid-Con Tournament. I do not think it is out of reach for OU."