Volleyball upsets No. 6 Eastern Michigan

Jimmy Miller

Box Score

Coach Don Gromala’s 2013 trip to the Mid-American Conference Tournament in his first as a head coach ended with a three-set loss to Ohio University.

A year later, Gromala’s squad traveled to the Bobcats’ home court, albeit against a different team, and earned his first career win in the tournament against last year’s finalists, Eastern Michigan University.

“I think it’s more exciting now that we played hard, played well and we played big at the critical moments,” Gromala said. “It was a really good defensive match.”

On 114 total team digs and 13 blocks, the Flashes shut down Eastern’s stud setter Jill Briner and middle blocker Megan Crawshaw, while holding outside hitter Stacey Perinar to 15 kills in the match. Ultimately, Kent State (17-13, 9-8 MAC) dropped the first set but took the next three in the victory.

Freshman libero Challen Geraghty notched 33 digs, and junior defensive specialist Sarah Mills, freshman outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger and senior defensive specialist Kaylee Koller all contributed double-digit digs.

“Our side, we just grinded through it,” Gromala said. “We scrapped, and they scrapped, but we scrapped more, and that’s what matters.”

In the physical four-set match, senior middle blocker Liz Reikow registered 16 points and lead the offensive attack.

“We knew with their defensive system, we could use our middles effectively,” Gromala said. “They had some inexperienced blockers on the left side, so we knew we could at least try to go at them.”

 Senior outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola trailed closely behind with 15.5 points, while Bittinger and junior middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm combined for 15 kills. Gromala also said junior opposite Kelly Hutchison, who had six kills, played well prior to an injury took her out of the match.

The Flashes will advance in the tournament to take on Miami University on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Kent State hosted the Redhawks last weekend and fell in a 3-2 thriller.

“It’s fortunate that we played them not too long ago,” Gromala said. “When we go back and play people, we play them better the second time around. They’ve got talented players, they’re well-coached, and they’re going to do good things, but we need to keep focusing on what we need to do.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].