Volleyball drops first match, returns strong for second

Jimmy Miller

Box Score — West Virginia University

Box Score — Saint Francis University

There are two sides to every story, and the Flashes experienced this popular saying after splitting two Friday matches in West Virginia.

Kent State (6-2) started their weekend at the Mountaineer Invitational with a noon match against host West Virginia University. After the Flashes jumped out to a 25-19 win in the first set, the Mountaineers woke up and found their rhythm.

“(West Virginia) is a very disciplined team with their block, and they’re a physical team,” head coach Don Gromala said. “We just don’t have enough firepower right now to neutralize that.”

West Virginia’s Jordan Anderson resumed her dominant season and began stating her case for the all-tournament team, finishing with 19 kills in the match.

“We didn’t produce when we needed to,” Gromala said. “In that first set, we got some big blocks, and they changed it offensively. They started hitting shots we couldn’t dig up.”

As per usual with the Flashes, senior outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola led the offense, while freshman libero Challen Geraghty continued to fortify the defense. Aderemi-Ibitola ended the match with 12 kills and 14 points, and Geraghty finished with 13 of the team’s 43 kills.

A different story—and a different lineup on the court—ensued when Kent State took on Saint Francis University later Friday afternoon.

New faces led to new statistical leaders as Kent State pummeled the Red Flash in four sets. After dropping the first set, Kent State mirrored their dominance over the Mountaineers and took home its sixth win of the season.

“We were just looking to get some people some other opportunities,” Gromala said. “We are trying to figure out what our best lineup is for (Mid-American Conference) season.”

Senior and junior middle blockers Liz Reikow and Bridget Wilhelm combined for 19 kills at the net, and junior Kelly Hutchison added another nine to the mix; however, senior outside hitter Lauren Engleman played her breakout match of the year, racking up 15 kills.

The feat came fairly close to Engleman’s career-high for kills, which came last year against Miami University when she recorded 17.

“Lauren took some really good swings,” Gromala said. “She did a really good job of being more aggressive.”

A solid defensive effort by freshman outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger and senior defensive specialist Kaylee Koller, who had 18 and 14 digs, respectively, also powered the Flashes.

Kent State returns to action Saturday to take on the University of Montana in the final match of the invitational.

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