Nov. 11, 2011
ROCHESTER, Mich. - Meghan Bray tallied 18 kills, Ashley Nevelle dished out 44 assists, and Alli Kirk picked up 24 digs as the Oakland volleyball team (17-10, 11-6) clinched its first-ever trip to The Summit League Championship tournament after a 3-1 victory over IUPUI (15-15, 8-9) on Friday night at the Athletics Center O'rena.
"When I took over in 2007, we had a five-year plan, and essentially every part of that plan has been accomplished except for making the conference tournament," said head coach Rob Beam. "That was in the fifth year. It is exciting for us to have achieved that goal, and I'm really excited for our senior class, who has given so much and has meant so much to all of us. For us to get to the conference tournament during senior weekend is very meaningful for them, I'm sure, because it's very meaningful to me.
"This was a huge moment for our seniors," added Beam, "and they rose to the occasion."
After the Golden Grizzlies pulled out a 25-16 win in the opening set behind a team hitting percentage of .289, the second set was decidedly more even. IUPUI hit .279 and OU hit .271, but OU pulled out a 28-26 win to put its match lead at 2-0. The Jaguars pulled to within 2-1 with a 25-19 victory in the third set, but the Golden Grizzlies hit .364 in the fourth set en route to a 25-13 victory to clinch the match.
"After the third set I told the team we needed to get back to basics," said Beam. "Let's play with speed, let's make some tweaks, and be more consistent. I had a good feeling about the fourth set. We got three points right out of the gate, and we just put out an amazing effort. It took an outstanding effort by our team to win tonight."
The Golden Grizzlies overcame a 12-5 deficit in team blocks by hitting .223 to IUPUI's .163, and by holding a 5-3 advantage in service aces. For Lange, the first trip to the Summit League tournament is an achievement four years in the making, and an especially sweet accomplishment after near-misses the last two seasons.
"This is a huge win after the last two years losing in the tiebreaker," said Lange. "I am pumped."
Oakland will play its final regular-season match on Saturday, hosting Western Illinois at the O'rena. The match is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start.