Despite hot start, Flashes volleyball hits turbulence in New York

Nicholas Pedone

Kent State’s women’s volleyball team traveled to New York for the Black Knights Invitational this weekend, where it went 1-2 in three matches.

The Flashes started off the weekend strong, improving their record to 6-2 with a victory against Binghamton University on Friday morning. Kent swept Binghampton in straight sets. The Flashes dominated the first set 25-16, won the second set 25-23 and then wrapped things up 25-16.

Kent had 36 kills in the victory. Senior Ashley Makruski led the way with 10 of them. Redshirt sophomore Alex Haffner had 24 of Kent’s 33 assists in the win.

On Friday night, Kent lost a nail biter to Bryant University.

The back-and-forth match went five sets with Kent winning the first one 25-23. From there, Bryant bounced back and won the second set 25-22 and the third set 25-20. Kent dominated the fourth set 25-14 but didn’t have enough left to win the match. The Bulldogs won the fifth set 15-13.

Sophomore Erin Gardner had 22 of the team’s 73 digs in the five-set affair. Junior Natalie Tagala had 23 assists. Haffner had 22 assists. 

Despite the loss, the Flashes possessed an impressive 6-3 record after the match against Bryant. This record was the best start to the season for Kent volleyball since 2014. 

On Saturday afternoon in New York, Kent lost a tough 1-3 match to Army West Point. 

“I think this was the first time that we had some close tests where we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities and pull out a win,” Gromala said. “We were doing that the first two weekends.”

The Flashes dropped the first two sets to Army West Point, 25-23 and 25-22. Despite the 0-2 start to the match, Kent won the third set 25-21 before dropping the fourth set and the match 25-16. With this loss, Kent State fell to a 6-4 record in their first 10 games of the season. 

Friday night, the Flashes will begin the Cleveland Challenge on the road against the Cleveland State Vikings. On Saturday, the Flashes will host Niagara University at the MAC Center.

Gromala said his entire team needs to execute this weekend in order to be successful, especially against Cleveland State who will be looking for a victory. He noted Niagara plays a riskier type of game, but the Flashes prepared for it all week.

“The good part about this weekend is being at home,” Gromala said of the Niagara match. “Having the fans around us, playing with a good crowd around us, we could that energy around us.”

On Friday Sept. 27,  the Flashes will open MAC competition against Miami University.

Nicholas Pedone is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].