Volleyball sweeps Buffalo in dominant fashion


Kelsey Bittinger, outside hitter, spikes the ball at the game against the University at Buffalo to gain a point Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The Flashes won, 3-0.

Jimmy Miller

Box Score

In a weekend that began with a four-set win over the University of Akron, Kent State volleyball continued the momentum in the Mid-American Conference with a three-set sweep over the University at Buffalo.

“This weekend was probably the most important thing this season so far,” sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger said. “We’ve definitely just proved to everyone this team has some awesome stuff going on.”

Kent State (10-7, 2-2) hosted the Bulls in the M.A.C. Center on Saturday and gained its second straight conference win. Kent State coach Don Gromala said his team got Buffalo (12-6, 2-2) out of its rhythm.

“It feels great to come out and execute like we did tonight,” Gromala said. “The best part of this match overall was our serving. Our serving kind of got them out of their system.”

The Flashes cruised to a first-set victory, 25-12. Led by senior opposite Lauren Engleman, Kent State’s offense found every open spot in the Buffalo defense. Engleman totaled three of the team’s nine kills in the set. Freshman libero Challen Geraghty led the defense with four digs in the set.

The Bulls challenged Kent State early in the second set, extending a brief back-and-forth exchange to an 11-8 lead. A few attack errors and a pair of kills from junior middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm altered the course of the set, and the Flashes ultimately earned the gritty 25-20 comeback win.

“It’s just like any sport,” Gromala said. “You have momentum, and momentum change. Fortunately for us, when they were making their runs, it was only like one or two, or two or three points.”

Kent State caught fire in the third set, finishing with 12 kills in a 25-15-weekend finale. Wilhelm established her presence as an offensive threat at the net, hitting .800 in the set with four kills. The team outhit the Bulls, .346 to .067, displaying an efficiency that proved key to its weekend success.

“We really played our game and didn’t let the other team get to us,” Geraghty said. “In the past, we would get passes up and then wouldn’t put them down. We weren’t really consistent, but we were consistent tonight.”

The Bulls didn’t have their biggest offensive weapon in junior outside hitter Tahleia Bishop, but Bittinger said the Flashes played the same way they would have if Bishop had been on the court.

“Even (Gromala) said that it wouldn’t affect our game plan,” Bittinger said. “We still played just as tough as we would have against her I thought.”

The Flashes hit the road Friday for their match with Bowling Green State University and travel to Oxford Saturday to take on Miami University.

“I knew coming in (to the season) that the MAC was just a great conference with a lot of competitive teams,” Bittinger said. “We just go out and play as hard as we can, and we prove to (opponents) we’re the better team.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].