Flashes volleyball looks to have record-setting season


Sophomore Kelsey Bittinger digs the ball against Miami University on Friday Sept. 25, 2015.

Nick Buzzelli

Kent State’s two upcoming matches against Ohio University on Oct. 6 and Nov. 10 stand out to Madeline Moxley. For the senior defensive specialist/libero, these contests represent a shot at redemption against the Mid-American Conference’s perennial volleyball program.  

Moxley got a taste of it during her freshman season in 2013, when Flashes ended their 23-game losing streak against Ohio and again last November when they knocked off the Bobcats, 3-1, in Athens for the first time in 16 years.

But 16 days after that victory, Ohio ended Kent State’s 20-win season and quest for its first MAC title.

“The important games will be Ohio University, just because they have a history of winning MAC championships and they also have a history of going back and forth with us,” she said. “We had an upset last year. We beat them at home and they came back and won in the MAC game, and I think to go and beat them at home and in the MAC Tournament would be amazing.”

It won’t be an easy task for the Flashes to dethrone the defending conference champions, but this time around the team knows how to play in tense situations with a set on the line.

“I think we learned how to compete under pressure better,” said Drew Norberg, a senior middle blocker. “Even if it’s the last point, play every point the same and stay level-headed.”

Before Kent State begins league play, however, it has to get through 13 non-conference games against five first-time opponents (including Stony Brook, Boise State and Tennessee) during the first month of the season.

Despite the fact that the Flashes can sometimes have a general idea about the plays certain schools run based on conference affiliation, they go into these matches cold without watching any prior film on the opponent.

But if anything, that level of uncertainty is an added benefit for the team to be able to play against different types of sets and hitters that it otherwise wouldn’t see in the MAC.  

“In these games you kind of go in not knowing,” Moxley said. “You know the general plays that they run because of the conference that they’re in, but you don’t know the details of what they run or how fast their sets are or how hard their girls are going to hit.”

Despite the fact that the program set a new record for conference wins and shared a claim of the MAC East Division title in 2015, Moxley has higher hopes for this season.

“I don’t think matching it would make me happy. Everyone has the expectation that we’re really wanting to make MAC history this year,” she said. “I think we all have that in mind. I think we all want to go further than the girls did before us and create a winning tradition for Kent State volleyball.”