Volleyball splits weekend series

Kent State senior Lexi Mantas sets the ball during a game against Buffalo. Kent State lost 2-3. 

Sean Blevins

The Kent State volleyball team (8-10, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) returned back home this weekend and split its two weekend matches, as they downed Akron but fell to Buffalo in two close matches.

Kent State 3, Akron 2

Kent State won an intense first set, 27-25. Akron (8-7, 0-4 MAC) led late, but the Flashes rallied back after a controversial call where the ball appeared out of bounds, but the point was attributed to Kent State as the call was not challenged by either coach.

“Any little thing can create a spark, and that one play was it,” coach Don Gromala said.

The second set also had multiple lead changes as neither team could muster any separation. The Zips got a four-point lead, 21-17, but the Flashes fought back for a tie and eventually took a 25-24 lead. Ultimately, the Zips were too much as they won a very hard-fought set, 32-30.

Attack and service errors cost the Flashes in the third set as the Zips dominated it, 25-17.

Kent State controlled the flow of the fourth set as the Flashes won it, 25-18, to force a decisive fifth set.

“We executed the game plan and our players came through,” Gromala said. “We had more blocks and aces and that ultimately became the difference.”

The Flashes stayed locked in and performed well under intense pressure in a thrilling fifth set to down in-state rival Akron, 15-12, in five sets.

Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Ellison was the driving force behind Kent State’s attack as she led the team in kills and total assists. Freshman libero Alex Haffner led the entire field in solo assists with 42 and finished with a .667 attack percentage.

Buffalo 3, Kent State 2

Kent State won a very tight first set, 27-25. The Flashes trailed early, but they remained resilient and fought back to win it.

Buffalo (10-6, 2-2 MAC) tied the match up at one after they led the entire second set and won it, 25-20.

“We have to be better all around,” Gromala said. “We need more production from the middle at times. All we have to do is find a way to get them more involved.” 

Kent State jumped out to a 12-7 lead in the third set, then closed out strongly as it won the set, 25-18.

Buffalo took an 8-6 lead in the fourth set, then expanded it to 15-10. The Bulls sneaked out the 25-22 win to send it to the fifth set.

Buffalo started the last set off hot, going up, 8-4. The Flashes made a few errors at the end, and the Bulls took advantage as they won it, 15-12.

Kent State travels to Bowling Green on Friday at 6 p.m. and Miami (OH) on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Flashes’ next home game isn’t until Oct. 19 when they take on Northern Illinois.

Sean Blevins is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].