KSU volleyball falters in five sets with Redhawks

Jimmy Miller

Box Score

Miami University entered the M.A.C. Center Friday night with every reason to feel confident: The Redhawks had a nine-match win streak in the conference and already defeated Kent State earlier this year in three straight sets.

While the Redhawks won the match, the challenge took five sets and a quick shift of momentum in the final moments of the match.

“We started off offensively taking some rough swings into their block, but their defense was really strong,” Gromala said. “They played a good game. We only played well when we were behind.”

Senior middle blocker Liz Reikow started the fifth set with a forceful block, but the Redhawks would go on a 5-2 run before the Flashes caught fire. The Flashes tied the set at 9-9, but Miami took two straight points, enough to swing the momentum for the remainder of the match. The Redhawks took the set, 15-11.

“Their offense was on fire,” Gromala said. “We weren’t serving tough enough to get them our of rhythm.”

Aderemi-Ibitola led the Flashes with a match-high 18 kills, but fluctuant play on the part of Kent State resulted in the loss.

“We had a few breakdowns at quite a few positions,” senior outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola said. “We were kind of off and no one was on at the same time.”

Kent State started slow throughout the match, even during the sets they won. After dropping the first set and falling behind 5-0 in the second set, Kent State stormed back to notch the second set. The Flashes took a 25-24 lead on junior opposite Kelly Hutchison’s kill and ended the set with senior defensive specialist Kaylee Koller’s ace.

Miami came out strong in the third set, earning an early advantage over the Flashes. The Redhawks didn’t looked back, as Kent State never held a single lead in the set.

With their backs against the door in the fourth set, freshman outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger registered a kill in the to tie it at 24 apiece. Kent State battled an up-and-down set, holding onto the lead until late in the bout, but then Bittinger registered another kill and freshman setter Brittney Jakscht ended the set with a block.

Gromala said he isn’t worried about team morale following the loss, as the Flashes head into their final home stand Saturday against Bowling Green State University. Five seniors will be honored both prior to and after the match as part of Senior Night.

“If we can’t respond, then we’re not ready to compete to win a MAC championship. I know that we’re ready for those types of situations,” Gromala said. “We know it’s going to be a good match, but it’s at home and it’s playing for five special players in the program. I know the girls are going to play hard.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].