Passing clicks as volleyball team tops Miami, Bowling Green

Tom Crilley

The Kent State volleyball team needed just seven sets to defeat both Miami and Bowling Green this weekend on the road.

The Flashes posted back-to-back wins Friday and Saturday for the first time since late October, beating Miami 3-1 and then sweeping Bowling Green.

Passing has been an area of weakness for the Flashes this season, but that was not the case this weekend. Kent State coach Glen Conley said the Flashes’ passing improved behind its senior veterans.

“We ended up going a lot with a two-man with Kristen Barr and Lauren Jones,” he said. “They handled it well, and it worked out really well so it’s probably going to be something that we’re going to continue to look at.”

The Flashes (10-11, 3-3) also displayed a better attack offense this weekend, a result of their improved passing. The team posted a season-high attack percentage of .367 against the Falcons (6-14, 1-5) and a second-best .328 against the RedHawks. More efficient passing allowed the setters to get the ball to the hot hitters, something the Flashes were unable to do in previous matches.

“I was impressed with our ability to control the ball,” Conley said. “We didn’t make a lot of hitting errors. We made our opponents score points. When you do that and you block well, it becomes really tough on your opponent. When you’re not giving them any points, and they have to earn everything and you put a huge block in their face, it really sets a good tone for your team.”

On Saturday night, the Flashes topped the Falcons, 25-23, 25-16 and 25-18. Bowling Green had the lead in all three sets, but the Flashes would not be denied. Junior middle blocker Liva Brivule paved the way for the Flashes with 16 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Meredith Paskert added 12.

The Flashes set the tone for the weekend with a 3-1 victory over the RedHawks (6-12, 1-4). Miami took the first set, but Kent State took control of the match from there with one of its finest offensive performances of the season. Brivule posted a staggering, season-high 24 kills. Paskert had a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs.

Paskert said she thinks the weekend sweep is a big confidence booster for the Flashes.

“Not only because we won, but because it wasn’t just a win,” she said. “We actually feel like we’re doing good things and getting better. It wasn’t just the other teams making mistakes. It was actually a win on our part. It’s exciting. I think it’s a big step for us. I think we can all agree that we’ve gotten much better this weekend.”

Blocking had been hit or miss for Kent State this season, but the Flashes outblocked the Falcons and the RedHawks 19-6 between the two matches.

“In practice we focused on it more and as players we were determined to make that better,” Paskert said. “For the most part we blocked a lot better than we have been, and we passed a lot better than we have been, which helps us in turn be able to get the kills and hits that we’re capable of getting.”

The Flashes were 1-3 in the Mid-American Conference after their loss to Akron, and Paskert said they would just have to win the rest of their conference matches. So far, the Flashes have done just that.

Contact Tom Crilley at [email protected].