Volleyball taking different approach to snap losing skid

Tom Crilley

In the midst of a six-game losing streak, the Kent State volleyball team is attempting to find a rhythm and have fun playing the sport it’s so passionate about.

Sophomore middle blocker Meredith Paskert said that’s the reason the team plays volleyball.

“(We’re) trying to take down the stress a little more and just play,” she said. “We’ve been doing a lot of scrimmages with different lineups to see where we can play the best. We’re not really going over any of the techniques. We’re just working hard.”

Kent State coach Glen Conley echoed what Paskert said about the Flashes’ main objective at this point in the season.

“The main thing we’re doing is just trying to get back to being competitive and having a little fun on the court and being a little more aggressive,” he said. “That’s what our focus has been, and we’ve been trying to establish that because it hasn’t been very fun lately. We’re trying to build some trust and some work ethic.”

Losing streaks take a toll on the players’ confidence. They can get even the best teams discouraged and wear them down mentally. Sometimes breaking the mental barrier is the hardest part of returning to a winning form.

“I think you just have to remember what you’re capable of,” Paskert said. “Just because we lost the last six games doesn’t mean that that’s how we usually play. You know you can get a kill or you can get that dig – just focus on doing it the right way.”

The most puzzling part of the Flashes six-game skid is that they practically dominated Miami and Bowling Green the weekend before the streak began. It took them just seven total sets to beat both opponents.

Against Miami and Bowling Green, the Flashes averaged 14.71 kills per set and 3.71 attack errors per set with a .351 hitting percentage.

However, in their last six matches they’ve averaged just 10.14 kills per set and 5.68 attack errors per set with a .136 hitting percentage.

“We played well as a team (against Miami and Bowling Green),” Paskert said. “Not that we don’t now, it’s just harder to. That weekend we had a lot of energy and we played with confidence.”

Paskert said Conley is pushing the team to try new things to find success.

“He’s saying that if you keep trying the same thing and it doesn’t work then that’s the definition of insanity because you’re going in, trying the same thing and expecting a different result,” she said. “Most of the time that’s not going to happen.”

Although the Flashes are struggling, Paskert said the team still remains close.

“Our team is doing very good at not finger-pointing at each other,” she said. “That’s incredible for me to see because volleyball teams, especially girls, once you start losing a lot you’re going to see a lot of finger-pointing, and we’re not doing that.”

Conley said he also noticed that the team has remained supportive of each other.

“Finger-pointing is going to get you nowhere,” he said. “We’re being honest with each other and taking an honest evaluation of stuff, but you start playing the blame game and you’re going to go downhill pretty quickly.”

The Flashes will face two tough road tests this weekend when they take on Akron on Friday at 7 p.m. and Buffalo on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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