Battered but not beaten: Flashes carry momentum to Tiger Invitational


Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola, Outside Hitter, spining the ball against Youngstown State University to get the point for Kent State University on Sept. 16, 2014. The Flashes won, 3-2.

Jimmy Miller

Close sets, early offensive woes and even a struggle with serving didn’t seem to bother the Kent State volleyball team, but those issues are different from the one they currently face: health.

“When we play these longer sets, it definitely takes a toll on your body,” senior defensive specialist Kaylee Koller said. “It’s just part of the game. Ice is our friend.”

Recovering from an exhausting stretch of four and five-set matches, the Flashes (8-2) head into Friday with a main objective of getting healthy. A Tuesday battle with Youngstown State University lasted five sets, and that match was only three days after a trio of matches in West Virginia.

“In treatments, our trainer has been doing an awesome job keeping us in shape and able to play,” Koller said. “A lot of it involves exercising our muscles that need work. It’s a lot of patience. We’re very thankful to have the training staff that we do.”

Kent State coach Don Gromala said he will continue to work on improving the team’s overall health, limiting what it can do in practice. Restrictions on the girls include hitting, jumping and diving.

“The practice is more about ball control, self-position, vision and communication,” Gromala said. “We do game movements without the jumping and the hitting so we can see how the discipline is with our lineup.”

The Flashes will take on Towson University Friday afternoon in the Tiger Invitational. Kent State is also slated to play a Friday match with St. John’s University and a Saturday-morning bout with North Dakota State University.

“We definitely want to go in with an open mindset and never take any points off,” senior middle blocker Liz Reikow said.

The team viewed film of matches Wednesday in preparation for the weekend and watched Towson play Delaware State and St. John’s take on La Salle University.

“(Towson) will probably be very similar to West Virginia — and we didn’t fare too well against them,” Gromala said. “We’ve got to get counterattack opportunities or stop them with a block, and cause them to make some hitting errors.”

This weekend marks the final set of matches before the Flashes open up their Mid-American Conference portion of the season, playing Ohio University on the road Sept. 25.

Gromala said the lineup for that match is not finalized, but this weekend will help determine it, barring more health issues.

“We’ll see where we are health-wise by then just because of how things have been going,” Gromala said. “The lineups we’ve had the last couple matches have been pretty successful, so I don’t know if we’ll change too much from there.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].