Kent State volleyball stumbles in weekend matches


The Kent Stater Sophomore Lexi Mantas jump serves the ball in the Flashes match against Wright State University. The Flashes won 3-0 Friday Sept. 2, 2016.

Henry Palattella

Kent State Volleyball (3-3) had an up and down weekend, going 1-1 at the Golden Flashes Classic followed by a loss to the University of Tennessee on Saturday.

The Flashes opened their weekend with a convincing win over Wright State University, sweeping them in three sets.

Junior Kelsey Bittinger led the way with 13 kills and three aces, while junior Brittney Jakscht and Katarina Kojic each had 15 assists. Kent State was stout on defense, limiting the Raiders to a .000 hitting percentage.

The Flashes faltered in the championship game, losing to Boise State University (4-2) in straight sets. Bittinger once again led the charge for Kent State, finishing with 14 kills and one block, while senior Drew Norberg chipped in with seven kills and three blocks.

Bittinger and junior Challen Geraghty represented Kent State on the All-Tournament team. Geraghty had 41 aces over the weekend.

Despite the loss in the championship game, head coach Don Gromala was able to draw some positives from his team’s play.

“We were happy with our performance against Wright State in the first match of the day,” Gromala said. “It was a much tougher match tonight. Boise State came and put a lot of pressure on us with their net play. We made some great adjustments and were right with them late into the third set, but just couldn’t pull it off. Going forward, we have to stay mentally and physically tougher longer into those dogfights.”

The Flashes followed that up with a loss in four sets to Tennessee (5-1). This marks the first time that Kent State has lost two-straight home matches since October 2013.

The Flashes held tough against the Volunteers, as the first two sets featured 16 ties and five lead changes. Tennessee won the first set 25-22, while Kent State rebounded to win the second set 25-23.

The Flashes hit a bump in the final two sets, recording just one more kill, 17, than error, 16, compared to the Volunteers’ 26 kills over the final two sets. Bittinger was once again a force for the Flashes, recording 14 kills and 16 points.

“This was another tough match for us tonight,” Gromala said in a press release. “I really like how we came out and started the first two sets. We showed a lot of grit in coming back to win in the second set, but we just kind of lost it. They put some pressure on us, and we didn’t make the appropriate adjustments on the court.”

The Flashes will look to stop their home losing streak on Tuesday when they take on Robert Morris University at 7 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.