Kent State volleyball ends weekend with three straight victories


Kelsey Bittinger, outside hitter, spikes the ball earning a point for Kent State at the game against Morehead State University Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. The Flashes won 3-0.

Jimmy Miller

Box Score

Kent State head volleyball coach Don Gromala talked about the early season matches as preparation for conference play, and Friday and Saturday’s victories showed exactly what he is looking for: improvement.

“We didn’t fall off after getting a win,” Gromala said. “We’re still hungry for more.”

The Hampton Inn Golden Flashes Volleyball Classic proved to be a showcase for Kent State (5-1), with impressive victories Friday versus the University of Evansville and Morehead State University. Saturday night seemed no different, as the Flashes pulled out a four-set win over the University of New Hampshire, their fifth straight win this season. All matches were at the M.A.C. Center.

“We just came in with a good attitude, pushing to win,” senior outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola said. “We keep on striving to be better than we were last year.”

As hosts of the invitational, Kent State only dropped two sets all weekend, falling in the third to Evansville on Friday morning and the third to New Hampshire on Saturday. This dominance came from not letting opponents get into a rhythm, as no team went on extensive scoring streaks.

“There (were) a couple streaks, but it’s not like teams are going on five or six point runs,” Gromala said. “It’s three or four, and we get (control) right back.”

The senior-junior tandem of Aderemi-Ibitola and middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm played physically at the net, combining for an impressive 80 kills and seven blocks. Thirty-three and three of these came Saturday.

Freshman outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger and senior middle blocker Liz Reikow also baffled teams in the tournament, finishing with 34 and 16 kills, respectively.


There’s no place like home for the Flashes: For the second straight year, the hosts of the Hampton Inn Golden Flashes Volleyball Classic captured the tournament title. Last year’s victories came over Binghamton University, Eastern Illinois University and University of Illinois at Chicago.

Aderemi-Ibitola and Wilhelm landed spots on the all-tournament team. The Most Valuable Player honor went to Aderemi-Ibitola, the leader of the efficient Kent State offense.

“There were definitely a lot of long, scrappy points,” Bittinger said. “During those, all of us kept our composure and our head straight, focusing on the next rally.”

Freshman libero Challen Geraghty did what she has done for the Flashes since her debut Aug. 29, impressing on defense with 34 digs on the weekend.

The Flashes also saw quality play from junior Kelly Hutchison on Saturday, who helped ignite a comeback victory in the second set.

“She just made good decisions,” Gromala said. “She was aggressive when she needed to be. She scored some big points.”

Kent State takes the road again to play in the Mountaineer Invitational in West Virginia. They will play their first opponent, West Virginia University, Friday at noon.

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].