Golden Grizzlies Enter New Millennium With High Hopes
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Andrea Cothren

The new millennium brings high hopes and goals for the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies in the 2000 season. This year marks head coach Ed Tolentino’s second at the helm of the Oakland volleyball program. The Golden Grizzlies finished the 1999 season with a 6-24 overall record and they were 2-12 in the Mid-Continent Conference.

"We want to make sure we’re taking a step in the right direction and that would definitely be a step forward," head coach Ed Tolentino said. "My goals are to set the tone immediately. I want to set the tone by saying ‘hey we’re gonna be a presence’. And for us to be a presence we might have to cut our short ends."

Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies is junior middle blocker Tess Pierce (Yorkville, Illinois). Pierce is coming off a stellar sophomore season. She led the team in kills with 317 and 3.11 per game. Pierce was named second team All-Mid-Continent Conference following the 1999 season.

"Tess is a dominating player," Tolentino said. "She is well conditioned and solid and one of the cornerstones of our program."

The other returning Grizzlies are Kim Shetler (Bay City), Lisa Matwijiw (North Olmstead, OH), Andrea Cothren (Muncie, IN), Jamie Puckett (Rockford), Carmen Trippett (Albion) and Cloretta Porter (Battle Creek).

Shetler played in 101 games for OU as a defensive specialist in 1999. She was third in digs last year with 207 and was second on the team in service aces with 20.

Matwijiw played in only 67 games for the Grizzlies after suffering an elbow injury. The outside hitter totaled 28 kills, 187 digs and six blocks.

Cothren, the Grizzlies setter, played in all 102 games and tallied 874 assists. She recorded 99 kills and was third on the team with 217 digs.

Puckett, an outside hitter for the Golden Grizzlies, played in 100 games for OU, totaled 176 kills, 177 digs, and 33 blocks during the 1999 season.

Trippett, an outside hitter for Oakland, had a strong sophomore season playing in all 102 games. She collected 299 kills for a 2.93 kills per game average.

Porter, an outside hitter and backup middle blocker for the Golden Grizzlies, played in 101 games for OU. She recorded 96 kills, 93 digs and 46 blocks her sophomore season.

Oakland welcomes five new faces to the court for the 2000 volleyball season.

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Tess Pierce

The only new Golden Grizzly with collegiate experience is Cheryl Briddell (Maryville, Illinois). Briddell comes to Oakland from Lakeland College where she lettered in volleyball during the 1999 season. Prior to Lakeland, Briddell played at Troy State in 1998.

Beth Rourk is a 2000 graduate from Woodhaven High School. At WHS she earned four varsity letters in volleyball and was named All-Region, All-League and All-State honorable mention her senior year.

Cortney Vartersian graduated from Ypsilanti High School in 2000. The four-year letterwinner for the Braves was selected first team All-Conference and All-Region in 1999-2000, and also collected scholar-athlete and MVP honors in all her four years at YHS.

Kaili Kleiman is a 2000 graduate of St. Clair High School. The three-year letterwinner did not play volleyball her senior year. She captained the squad her junior year.

In order for the Golden Grizzlies to make a presence in the Mid-Continent Conference and NCAA Division I volleyball action, OU will have to conquer a tough schedule in 2000.

OU travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Iowa City, Iowa for tournaments at Duquesne and Iowa, respectively, to open the season. The Golden Grizzlies host Eastern Michigan September 12 in their home opener.

Oakland will also face Mid-American Conference schools Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Bowling Green and Midwestern Collegiate Conference opponents Wisconsin-Green Bay and Cleveland State, in addition to the seven Mid-Con schools.

"I’m glad to be back for my first full year with the program," Tolentino said. "We have made sacrifices to push this program down the right road and I hope that the 2000 season will be a positive one for OU.

"We have our goals set high and there is a tough road ahead. One positive is that our players know it won’t be easy and they are ready to take on the world."

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