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When the Oakland University volleyball team leans on its seniors for leadership, Brittany Dunn carries the load. Dunn is a committee of one when it comes to taking charge for the Grizzlies, because on the 17-member unit, Dunn is the only senior in the roll call.
"I am incredibly proud of Brittany, for not only what she means to us now as a fifth-year senior captain, but for the progress she has made as an individual, both as a person and as a student-athlete," Oakland coach Rob Beam said. "She makes my job easier as a coach and she makes her teammates better as a player."
Dunn is a former standout performer at Bowling Green High School where she was first team all-district, all-league and all-county as a senior while helping lead the Bobcats to the Northern Lakes League title. After red-shirting her first year at Oakland, in Rochester, Mich., Dunn played in 97 games in 2007 and was an Academic All Summit League selection, an honor she has received three times.
Over the next two seasons, the defensive specialist assumed an increasingly prominent role on the court, where she has been named the Summit League's defensive player of the week three times. Beam said her contribution to the Oakland team can't be measured in her stunning stats or the records she is collecting.
"Brittany has become a tremendous leader for our program," he said. "From day one she has embraced the central mission of our program and is now in a position where she is the one that is setting the pace for the rest of her teammates. It is a joy to have someone like her, someone who is passionate, intelligent, organized, and dedicated, leading the way for our program."
Dunn, who had 29 digs in a recent match with South Dakota State, has more than 1,200 in her career - second-best all-time at Oakland. She is comfortable with the responsibilities as the team's sole senior.
"I feel like there's a lot on my shoulders, but it works with my personality since I feel like I need to take everyone under my wing," Dunn said. "The best way to teach or lead younger players is to set a strong example, and the response I've received from the rest of the team has been awesome."
Beam said Dunn's leadership and academic excellence sometimes overshadow her athletic accomplishments. Dunn had six aces against UMKC last season, one shy of the school record, and made the all-tournament team at West Virginia.
"On the court, Brittany has become one of the top defenders and passers in the Summit League," Beam said. "She has eclipsed the 1,000 dig mark for her career this season, which is a testament to her consistency. And as a server she is on the verge of being the Division I era career aces leader. This certainly makes her one of the top players in the history of our program."
The Oakland team won just a single match in Dunn's first year, then kept improving each season, winning 17 matches last year. The Grizzlies are hovering around 0.500 as Dunn's senior season reaches its midway point, and she feels good about leaving the program in much better shape than it was when she arrived.
"It was a lot of work, but I feel very fortunate that I got to be part of the turnaround here," she said. "It showed me that you can accomplish great things, if everyone works together. Not too many people get the opportunity to play college volleyball, and it's been worth all of the sacrifices. I think the discipline and dedication you need to develop will serve me well in the future."
Dunn, an elementary education major, is conducting her student teaching as the Grizzlies go through their season. She plans to do post-graduate studies, and eventually work in her family's funeral home business.
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org