Oakland University volleyball has completed ‘outstanding’ spring season

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published May 27, 2014

 Oakland University’s Melissa Deatsch is pictured during a regular-season match against the University of Illinois at Chicago last season.

Oakland University’s Melissa Deatsch is pictured during a regular-season match against the University of Illinois at Chicago last season.

File photo by Donna Agusti

In what may best be described as a tune-up for the upcoming fall season, Oakland University’s volleyball program completed its nontraditional spring season.

The Golden Grizzlies participated in the Premier Tournament, the Eastern Michigan Tournament, the Oakland Spring Fling and the Michigan Tournament.

Highlights from Oakland’s spring schedule include a 10-6 record, with wins against programs such as the University of Michigan, Cleveland State University and Central Michigan University.

Although the games took place in the nonchampionship season, they may have gone a long way toward helping coach Rob Beam evaluate his team before it begins the fall campaign.

“For a lot of the years I’ve been here at Oakland, it’s been really instrumental in laying the groundwork for a successful fall,” he said. “I thought this was an outstanding season for us. We came into last fall as a young group that got a lot of experience. I thought they did a great job of keeping the expectations of their performance high. I thought they had great team chemistry. I thought all those things were only accentuated this year in the nonchampionship season.

“Plus, we showed that we can play with the best teams in the Horizon League; we beat some great teams in the MAC and got the win against Michigan in the Big 10. As it relates to the spring season, having a great spring game, you can gain a lot in your training — you can gain a lot of confidence. I think in our spring season, every player on our team developed confidence in their ability to effect a match.”

Although next season will just be Oakland’s second in the Horizon League, being a relative newcomer doesn’t mean Beam plans to set small goals.

“The outcome goal is always the same,” he said. “Win the regular-season championship; be the No. 1 seed going into the championship tournament. In the Horizon League, that means we get to host the championship tournament. Win that — go to the NCAA tournament. That’s an outcome goal.”

Before losing to Cleveland State in the quarterfinal match of the Horizon League Tournament last season, Oakland had won five consecutive regular-season games. That kind of success, combined with what Beam saw from his team this spring, could bode well for the Golden Grizzlies in the fall.

“We’re very optimistic about our upcoming fall season,” Beam said. “I think this is the deepest team talentwise, probably, we’ve had going into my eighth season. Think we’ve got a great coaching staff — have to work really hard to prepare our team well for each match in the Horizon League. I think we’ve got a very talented roster. I think we’re all excited and eager to get back to work in August.”

Last season, the Golden Grizzlies had an overall record of 15-14. Their 9-5 record in the Horizon League was good for a third-place finish.