Golden Grizzlies Begin Ridley Era

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Head Coach Mark Ridley

For the Oakland University volleyball team the future is now. First-year head coach Mark Ridley and his Golden Grizzlies are ready and waiting to improve on last seasonís 6-22 overall record and 2-10 conference mark.

Coach Ridley is very optimistic about the upcoming season, and with good reason. Becca Saldana (White Lake, MI), a transfer from Central Florida is expected to make an immediate impact with her leadership and playing experience. As the lone senior on the team Ridley will be looking for Saldanaís competitive drive to help lead this team to a successful season.

"This team can go as far as it wants to," Ridley said. "It will be up to them as a team to decide. The girls have a fantastic attitude after a very good preseason. This is a very hard working team with good character and a competitive nature."

As optimistic as Ridley is, he is also a realist and is aware that nothing will come easy for this team, as they will be tested early in the season.

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Junior Cortney Varterasian

"We will be tested immediately," Ridley said. "The beginning of our schedule is definitely the strongest. We start off against South Carolina and Michigan State (ranked #16 in the nation) at the Coca Cola/Michigan State Tournament.

"After that we have the Akron Tournament where we will play Akron, Virginia Tech, and Robert Morris. We will be tested right off the bat which is good. It will make us a stronger team and any weaknesses we have will be exposed early which will allow us to make adjustments right away."

This may prove to be helpful for the Golden Grizzlies in order for them to realize their goal of making the Mid-Con Tournament.

Each year the teams from the Mid-Continent Conference continue improving and no match can be taken for granted. Making the tourney may prove to be a arduous task as there will be no weak opponents this season in a conference that has been dominated by Oral Roberts, who won their fifth Mid-Con Volleyball Tournament title in a row last season.

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Sophomore Karen Conger

Returning for the Golden Grizzlies to help reach their goals are juniors Lauren Bramos (Grosse Pointe, MI), Beth Ann Rourk (Woodhaven, MI), and Cortney Varterasian (Ypsilanti, MI). Bramos led the team last season with 28 serving aces and was second on the team in digs with 159, while appearing in 89 games. Rourk played in 88 games last season. She was second on the team with 23 serving aces, collected 125 digs, and had 158 total attacks. Last year Varterasian led the team with 162 digs, had 113 kills, and collected 13 serving aces in 84 games.

Ridley will also look to sophomores Karen Conger (Marysville, MI), Kim Cook (Troy, MI), Katie Lozier (Clinton Township, MI), and Sara Miller (Jackson, MI) to make a big impact this season. Becca Moller (Columbiaville, MI) will red shirt this season. Conger appeared in 65 games last year. She was second on the team with 90 kills, second on the team in serving aces with 18, and recorded 117 digs. Cook had 95 digs, four kills, and 26 total attacks in 75 games last year. Lozier was second on the team in assists with 198 and had 75 digs in 52 games for the Golden Grizzlies. In her 30 games last season Miller had 16 kills, 57 total attacks, and 15 digs. Mollerís absence will be felt this season. Last year she appeared in 83 games and led the team with 721 assists. She also had 67 kills, 140 digs, and registered 47 blocks.

With the addition of transfer students Saldana and Patti Hunter (Macomb, MI), along with freshman Amanda Fowler (Battle Creek, MI), Allison Summerhill (Commerce, MI), and Whitney Lane (Kentwood, MI) to this strong nucleus of returnees, no goal will be out of reach for the Oakland University volleyball team.

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