Golden Flashes leave Sacramento State Invitational empty handed

Jesse Runner

Kent State’s women’s volleyball team finished in third place at the Sacramento State Invitational in California this past weekend.

The tournament, hosted by Sacramento State University, saw Kent State start off with two losses to Santa Clara University and Sacramento State before picking up a win against the University of Nevada. Head Coach Don Gromala felt the team showed both positives and negatives in its weekend performance.

“We did pretty well offensively, so that’s something good to take away,” said Gromala in a post-game interview. “Overall, the wins weren’t there but we learned a lot about our team and what were trying to do to get prepared for the MAC next weekend.”

The Golden Flashes started Friday night off slow, losing their first match of the tournament to Santa Clara University. The team struggled to get going early, dropping both the first (25-14) and second (25-16) sets by a combined score of 20 points. The Flashes played better in the third set but failed to prevent the sweep as Santa Clara won the match 25-22.

The Flashes squared-off against a tough opponent in Sacramento State University who had won its last 11 matches entering Saturday’s action. Make that 12, as Kent State dropped its second game in a row despite winning the first set of the match in overtime 29-27. Sacramento State went on to win the next three sets, including a second set that saw Kent leading 21-16 at one point. Sophomore Kelsey Bittinger posted the most kills in the match with 20.

Saturday night, against the University of Nevada, Kent salvaged the weekend trip. After losing the first set by a score of 25-22, the Flashes rallied to win the next three sets to draw their record back to even at 6-6. Bittinger once again led all players in kills with 20.

Bittinger received all-tournament team honors after posting 48 total kills (4.36 per set) and 18 digs over the two-day tournament. Bittinger recently was named to the Golden Flash Classic all-tournament team as well.

With the west-coast road trip wrapped up, coach Gromala and the Flashes will be focused on the upcoming conference play, which begins Friday at the M.A.C. against Miami University.

“Miami’s a really strong team and they had a great year last year,” said coach Gromala. “They’ve had a good non-conference showing so far. We played teams that are similar to how strong they are (Miami) as a volleyball team both offensively and defensively, so I think that prepared us.”

Jesse Runner is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]