Volleyball closes season with Senior Night match

Taylor Sforzo

Five girls walked onto the blue and gold Kent State University volleyball court, and competed for the last time in their college careers Saturday night.

Kelsey Bittinger, Challen Geraghty, Amber Gerdeman, Brittney Jakscht and Heather Younkin dedicated four years to the volleyball team and the coaching staff thanked them after their match against Eastern Michigan.

“It’s going to be tough to replace these five young women that are graduating,” coach Don Gromala said. “They are amazing people that have done a lot for this program. We love them to death and we’re excited to see what they’ve got ahead in their future.”

Unfortunately, the Flashes (5-22 overall, 3-13 Mid-American Conference) ended their season with a 1-3 loss (25-22, 16-25, 25-15, 25-17) against Eastern Michigan (15-17, 7-9 MAC).

Senior setter Brittney Jakscht excelled all over the board with 33 assists, 5 kills, 7 digs, 2 aces and 2 blocks. Senior outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger led the team with 11 kills and 15 digs behind senior defensive specialist/libero Challen Geraghty’s match-high 28 digs.

The Flashes fell behind when they held an 11-8 lead in the fourth set only for Eastern Michigan to come back and score 6 straight leading to an end of the season loss 1-3.

“It was definitely a rough season,” Geraghty said. “We did not play to our capability which is quite frustrating being a senior and a captain. We wanted it at times, but we didn’t fight through the whole games and that was most frustrating.”

The Flashes also lost to Ohio University (15-14, 9-6) Thursday night in straight sets (23-25, 23-25, 20-25).

Geraghty led the team with 19 kills, low compared to her 28 on Saturday, but managed to cross the 2,400 kill mark during the match. Geraghty ended her career with 2,441 digs to rank 19th all-time in NCAA Division I.

Gromala said ending a rough season like this hurts and the team was too close to winning too often and couldn’t get things going on the court all together. The team lost 27 sets by 3 points or less all season.

Despite the rough season, the team still found ways to have a fun time playing and being together.

“My favorite part about the team is our ridiculous inside jokes and the shenanigans in the locker room honestly,” Bittinger said. “It’s just so much fun to just be goofing around with everyone and being around everyone. I think we learned a lot more about each other and that’s my favorite part about volleyball.”

Taylor Sforzo is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].