Flashes bounce back after tough start to Golden Flashes Classic

Ian Kreider

Kent State (5-2) used a strong Saturday showing to help propel it to a second-place finish in the Golden Flashes Classic. 

Purdue Fort Wayne 3, Kent State 0

Slow starts were the theme of the game for the Flashes.

The tone was set early by the Mastodons (4-3), who grabbed an early 8-0 lead. The Flashes came out sluggish and quickly surrendered the first set, 25-10.

The second set was not much better.

The Flashes came out similarly to the first game, falling behind, 9-3, early. The Mastodons kept their foot on the gas pedal, finishing the set on a 16-3 run.

The final set was no different. Kent State responded late, cutting the lead to 18-16, but then allowed seven unanswered points to end the game.

Service pressure has been a common theme in the Flashes’ wins, but the team finished with zero aces.

Kent State 3, Morgan State 1

The Flashes came out and matched Morgan State’s (2-5) intensity early in their first game on Saturday.

“We’re really excited with how the team responded overall,” coach Don Gromala said.

The Flashes closed out the set on a 11-4 run to take the first set, 26-24. Freshman setter Alex Haffner assisted on seven points during the run.

“I think we can be more dynamic with our offense because we’ve been pretty basic with where our hitters have been hitting, so as our ball control gets better, we can start getting more creative with our offense,” Gromala said.

Kent State went on to take the second set, 25-18, and the fourth set, 25-21, to win the game, 3-1.

Senior outside hitter Darby Connors also had a large contribution, recording a team-high 14 kills in the win.

“Darby came out swinging earlier here today,” Gromala said. “Both matches she started out on fire, and I think that’s great because it kind of carried our team. We’ve had some slower starts overall, so her having good, positive starts is great for the rest of the team to build off of.”

Kent State 3, Niagara 0

The Flashes dominated in their last game of the tournament against Niagara (0-6).

They took the game in straight sets (25-16, 25-19, 25-16), with consistent service pressure, finishing with six aces.

Freshman middle blocker Danie Tyson had a solid showing, finishing the game with 13.5 points.

“Danie was really solid again this evening,” Gromala said. “It was similar to Tuesday with her ability to really make some good decisions. Our setters found her in some really good opportunities where we were getting the ball higher. She’s moving the ball around,  so she’s not just hitting it or scoring it by doing one thing. She’s doing some different things with either going off the block or in front of the setter or behind the setter. She’s pretty versatile.”

Kent State looks to extend its winning streak to three games as it takes on Robert Morris (0-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday inside the North Athletic Complex in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.

Ian Kreider is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].