Volleyball ends season with three-straight wins

Tom Crilley

The Kent State volleyball team defeated Bowling Green and Miami over the weekend to close out its regular season with a three-game winning streak.

The Flashes (13-18, 6-19 Mid-American Conference) beat the Falcons (8-22. 2-13 MAC) and the RedHawks (10-19, 5-11 MAC) both times they played them this season. It was the team’s first sweep over Bowling Green since 1997 and the first over Miami since 2003.

Kent State coach Glen Conley said it was a huge accomplishment for his team.

“These are two excellent programs with two excellent coaches,” he said. “There’s a reason we haven’t done that.”

Lauren Jones, Kristen Barr, Celia Sabo, Brianne Wille and Liva Brivule were honored Saturday after the Flashes’ 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-12, 25-18) victory over Miami as part of the team’s senior night.

Brivule is only a junior, but since she played on Latvia’s national team she will have to seek another year of eligibility from the NCAA to compete next season.

The Flashes dropped the first set to the RedHawks but never faltered after that. Kent State had just seven hitting errors through the final three sets and posted hitting percentages of .485, .333 and .412.

Conley said the statistics showed complete domination by his team.

“It’s pretty impressive,” he said. “It really is. Take last weekend and this weekend and we’ve hit well over 300 in every game. The girls did it. I think we’re going to be excited to play one more match together and see where that goes.”

Barr had a team-high 17 digs and one service ace. She said it’s important that the Flashes are playing their best volleyball now at the end of the season.

“We’re getting prepared and ready to go into the tournament so I think it’s definitely

key,” she said. “We’ve gotten back to playing fun and bringing the excitement.”

“We have nothing to lose at this point so let’s go have fun and see what we can do. I think the results we’re getting now are phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Barr said it was huge for the team to get a win on senior night and the younger girls understood that.

“I was like, ‘I cannot lose on my senior night,’” she said. “And with the younger girls, I think we were all just playing for each other.”

It was the seniors’ last time playing on their home court. Barr said that just hadn’t sunk in yet.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “Honestly, it hasn’t even hit me yet. I don’t think it’s going to hit me until I’m not showing up for spring ball.”

Some of the weekend’s top performers were sophomore middle blocker Meredith Paskert, junior middle blocker Brivule and Jones. Paskert and Brivule combined for 41 kills. Jones added 15 kills and 23 digs.

Friday night was highlighted by a quick Flashes’ victory. It took the team just three sets to finish Bowling Green (25-22, 25-20, 25-23). The Flashes outhit the Falcons in every set, and they were never really a factor in the game.

The Flashes will be playing in the first round of the MAC tournament on Tuesday in Toledo at 7 p.m. to take on the Rockets.

Contact Tom Crilley at [email protected].