Volleyball drops Homecoming matches to Toledo, Ball State

Kent State senior Kelsey Bittinger hits the ball while senior Challen Geraghty watches during the Homecoming match Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

Taylor Sforzo

Students and alumni showed their blue and gold pride Saturday for Kent State’s annual Homecoming celebrations — sports included.

After the Kent State football team defeated Miami (OH) in their Homecoming match, the Flashes’ volleyball team (4-15 overall, 2-6 Mid-American Conference) took on Toledo (10-10 overall, 5-3 MAC) to end the fourth weekend of conference play.

Despite the two wins last weekend, Kent State fell in straight sets to Toledo (23-25, 22-25, 15-25).

Senior Kelsey Bittinger led with 18 of the team’s 38 kills, and freshman Natalie Tagala led with 34 assists.

“I think the first two sets were pretty close,” coach Don Gromala said. “We did some pretty good things, but we just have to find some different ways to score. We had good starts. I think we just kind of ran out of gas.”

Gromala said the team executed well and the coaching staff is looking to make necessary changes to figure out how the team can be more successful offensively. 

“We have to find some ways to be a little less predictable with our offense,” Gromala said. “Maybe we have to start moving our hitters around more. We’ve got plenty of season left.”

The Flashes also fell to Ball State (13-8, 5-3 MAC) Friday, 3-1 (19-25, 25-17, 19-25, 25-27).

Junior outside hitter Lexi Mantas had 13 kills paired with 17 digs, while senior outside hitter Bittinger also had 13 kills with 19 digs. Senior Challen Geraghty led the team with 21 digs.

“I think we’re playing pretty good,” Gromala said. “We’ve been really close in a lot of matches. It was a good weekend last weekend, but we have to move on from that. It’s a different team and a different situation game by game.”

Kent State will travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to take on Western Michigan Friday.

“It’s just another day, another weekend,” Gromala said on the team staying motivated, despite their losses. “We’re always positive and upbeat. We know we let one slip through our fingers there tonight, but we’ll come back ready to battle come next Friday.”

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