Volleyball struggles against Bowling Green

Evan Hablitzel

Kent State volleyball (9-8, 2-2 MAC) took the match lead with a tightly contested first set win (25-23) against the Bowling Green Falcons (11-6, 1-3 MAC) in Saturday night’s road match.

The Flashes took a commanding 8-3 lead in the second set. Bowling Green countered with a 24-17 charge and earned the set victory (27-25), tying the match heading into the third frame.

Bowling Green came away with the 3-1 match victory (23-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-17), earning their first conference win of the season. Kent State head coach Don Gromala pinned the intense final points of the second set as the match’s turning point.

“They grinded out some long points and some big points at the end of the second set,” Gromala said, following the match. “They carried over that momentum, and I think that was the difference.”

The Flashes committed only six attack errors in the first two sets with a .267 hitting percentage. After totaling only three blocks in Friday’s three-set loss to Miami University (OH), the frontcourt racked up seven during the first two frames.

“The first two sets were battles,” Gromala said. “We were playing well and doing some really nice things offensively.”

The Falcons committed 13 attack errors and their frontcourt tallied just two blocks heading into the third set. Kent State trailed in assists (37-27), service aces (4-1) and committed four reception errors compared to just one for Bowling Green.

“Bowling Green stayed composed and kept on doing what they do,” Gromala said. “It started a little bit with their serve … We knew they were going to serve tough coming in, but they started to get to us and score some points off that.”

Bowling Green’s third set victory (25-16) could be attributed to 12 attack errors by the Flashes, dropping their hitting percentage to .156. Kent State’s error-filled third set coincided with a shift of control at the net.

The Falcons notched three blocks in the frame, compared to just one for the Flashes.

“We took some chances at the net with our blocks and they made some adjustments as the match went on,” Gromala said. “We could not make up for it with our floor defense … If you’re mixing shots up as an offense and finding ways to score, you build some momentum. That, along with passing well, makes a team hard to defend.”

The match finished with Kent State trailing in both digs (70-60) and assists (56-42).

“After we lost that second set, we couldn’t recover,” Gromala said. “We have to believe in what we do and how we got there whenever we lose a tough set like that.”

Senior middle blocker Drew Norberg was a bright spot for the Flashes Saturday night. Norberg’s inspired performance resulted in team-leading totals of 16 kills, .387 hitting percentage and five blocks.

“She’s been playing (fearlessly). She’s trying to do everything she can to get our team to win,” Gromala said. “(Norberg’s) giving everything she’s got and that why she’s produced those numbers.”

The Flashes’ will try to rebound when they travel to Athens to take on Ohio University (7-9, 3-1) Thursday night.

“It was a tough road trip and there is a lot to learn from this weekend,” Gromala said.

Evan Hablitzel is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]