Flashes take pair of matches in Charleston

Jimmy Miller

Box Score — Davidson

Box Score — College of Charleston

Close sets seem to be nothing unfamiliar to Kent State volleyball so far this season, as the Flashes won both matches on their trip to Charleston.

“It comes on our defense” head coach Don Gromala said. “The little points teams Mercer was getting (Friday) were the plays we were keeping alive and keeping in long rallies.”

Kent State (2-1) played at the College of Charleston Invitational and started the day with a morning sweep over Davidson, despite the fact that none of the sets were won by more than three points.

“Our ball control and the team stepping up on defense were two big things, as well as serving,” Gromala said. “We are a real tough serving team as long as we don’t overextend ourselves.”

Freshman defensive specialist Challen Geraghty led the way defensively for the Flashes with 22 digs, while the team also saw quality play from senior libero Kaylee Koller and freshman outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger.

Later in the evening, the Flashes played the host of the invitational, the College of Charleston, and battled their way to a fifth and final set. They finished the job and came out victorious, 15-8.

 “It was kind of funky,” Gromala said. “Usually the first weekend you kind of have meltdown and stuff starts to go wrong, and that happened against Charleston. We responded well and came back well. Later on down the road, we probably don’t want to get down.”

The first two sets of the match weren’t the typical narrative of the weekend, as Charleston blew out the Flashes in the first set, 25-15, and Kent State snatched the second set, 25-18.

From there, close, competitive play set the tone for the match. A 25-23 set in Charleston’s favor and a convincing start nearly put the Flashes to rest until a few attack errors for the Cougars and a kill from Bittinger ignited a Kent State comeback and fifth-set win. Defense also played an important role in the comeback.

“(Our offense) is adjusting,” Gromala said. “It’s going to take some time, but they came up big when they needed to in that fifth set.”

Going into the weekend, Gromala said he looked at the invitational as a good preparation for Mid-American Conference play.

“There’s a lot of different styles and different types of play (in the tournament),” Gromala said. “It prepares us for what we’ll see in three weeks.”

Gromala also noted no one single team finished 0-3 in the tournament.

“This was an incredibly even tournament,” Gromala said. “A lot of the sets were decided by a couple points.”

The Flashes will have their home opener Friday in the M.A.C. Center, hosting an afternoon bout with the University of Evansville.

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].