Kent State volleyball win streak snapped at five


Junior Challen Geraghty dives for the ball against Robert Morris University on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State won, 3-0. Friday night’s game ended with the Flashes losing their five-game win streak to the University of Miami RedHawks, 3-0.

Evan Hablitzel

Kent State volleyball’s (9-7, 2-1) bid to extend their season high-five match win streak was denied Friday night in Oxford.

The Miami (OH) RedHawks (12-4, 3-0) won their 11th consecutive match with a 3-0 sweep of the Flashes (25-16, 25-16, 25-14). Miami has won 23 consecutive sets, with their last defeat coming during a Sept. 9 match victory (3-2) against Auburn.

Kent State’s first set performance foreshadowed the rest of their night. Trailing by one (13-12), the Flashes committed a series of errors that opened the door for a 12-4 RedHawks run.

Each of the match’s three sets saw Miami take control mid-set.

“We were right there with them for half the set each time, but we just weren’t good enough with our passing and aggressiveness at the net,” said Kent State head coach Don Gromala, following the match. “You can’t do that against a good team.”

An attack error by junior outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger ended the sloppy first set (25-16), giving Miami the early 1-0 advantage. Bittinger’s attack error was one of six for Kent State in the opening frame, resulting in a lowly .171 hitting percentage.

“We weren’t passing great in one of our rotations, and we didn’t have a hitter step up to get us out of it,” Gromala said. “We were trying to find different ways to score and needed somebody to go out there and really hammer a ball.”

Miami committed only two attack errors and ended the set with an impressive .306 hitting percentage. The RedHawks front court, led by senior middle hitter Paige Hill, dominated the net with three of their match total nine blocks.

The second set (25-16) and third set (25-14) followed suit for Kent State. The Flashes finished the night trailing Miami in assists (34-28) and service aces (5-1).

They came out playing their style of game and didn’t let anything shake them,” Gromala said. “(Miami) played steady throughout with their serve and pass game and how they played at the net offensively ... We have to put more pressure on them.

Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Mantas contributed a team high nine kills for the Flashes, while Bittinger and junior libero Challen Geraghty led the way with 15 digs apiece.

Kent State ended the match with 21 attack errors and a .114 hitting percentage, their second lowest total of the season. The RedHawks committed only eight attack errors with a commanding .324 hitting percentage.

“We didn’t play well enough to win, obviously,” Gromala said. “I thought we did some good things defensively, but we have to be better on the offensive side … When we find our openings, our attackers need to really go after them.”

Kent State has little time to dwell on the disappointing performance before Saturday’s 7 p.m. road match against MAC rival Bowling Green State University (10-6, 0-3).

Hopefully we can take from tonight and move forward to tomorrow,” Gromala said.

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