Volleyball sweeps Akron Zips


Members of the Kent State volleyball team celebrate after scoring a point against Buffalo on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. Photo by Erin McLaughlin.

Tim Dorst

The Kent State volleyball team gained two pivotal Mid-American Conference victories in a pair of matches that went the distance over the weekend.

The Flashes (12-13, 6-6 MAC) defeated the Buffalo Bulls in five sets Friday and followed the win by besting the Akron Zips in another five-set match Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.

With the wins, the team takes sole possession of third place in the MAC East Division, behind only Ohio and Bowling Green. The Flashes’ win against the Zips marks their first season sweep against the team since 2009.

“I think it’s more special for the seniors because it was the first time they swept Akron since coming here,” head coach Don Gromala said.

Kent State won its first two sets against Buffalo, having to battle from behind in the second set. Trailing 24-23, junior middle blocker Liz Reikow tied the score with a kill and finished the set with another kill to cap off three straight points at the end of the set.

The Bulls ran away with the next two sets, but the Flashes took the fifth set 15-11 to win the match. Junior Lauren Engleman scored a career-high of 13 kills, while three other players posted double-digit kills to lead the effort.

Saturday featured another marathon match for the Flashes, with the team going back and forth with the Zips for five sets. Kent State struck first with a 25-19 win in the first set but suffered a setback in the second set as Akron won 25-13 to tie up the match.

The two teams each took one out of the next two sets, leading into the decisive fifth set. The Flashes’ defense stepped up in the final set, limiting the Zips’ attack on their way to a 15-7 win for the set and the match.

“Once again we came out great in that fifth set and that’s the difference,” Gromala said.

“There’s so much adrenaline, especially with this being a rivalry match. Our girls were ready to go.”

Junior Kaylee Koller lead the defense for the Flashes with a career-high 30 digs, while Engleman and sophomore Kelly Hutchison each finished the match with double-digit kills to head the offensive attack.

Kent State will be looking to earn a spot in this season’s MAC Tournament, which begins on Nov. 22. The Flashes return to action on the road next weekend, when they will face with Miami (Oh.) RedHawks on Friday and the Bowling Green Falcons on Saturday.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].