Seniors still hoping for MAC volleyball title run

Tom Crilley

Sabo is part of a senior class with teammates Kristen Barr, Lauren Jones and Brianne Wille. With only four games left on her home court, she said it’s important that the team finishes strong.

“When you’re in high school, for a lot of us it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s a bummer that the season didn’t work out, but now I have four years of college,’” Sabo said. “This is it. It’s the end of my volleyball career, so it’s really important to help set up teams for down the road, too.”

Sabo said she sees it as a responsibility to teach the younger girls on the team and help them progress. Being a role model for them is what drives her. The four freshmen Flashes, Zane Malasevska, Hannah Herc, Aleksandra Nowak and Jessica Ronyak, have all seen more playing time lately.

“When I was a freshman we had Annie Zakelj as a senior, and she was this crazy middle blocker. She had crazy ups. She was always running all over the place and touching everything and (coach Glen Conley) always says, ‘Be like Annie. She was a beast.’“

“For me, I want the younger girls to be like, ‘Be like Sabo. She was crazy.’”

Sabo also said despite recent struggles, the Flashes are still hopeful about winning the east division in the Mid-American Conference.

“We have the second half of the east right now,” she said. “So we’re going to come out on top.”

The Flashes (10-15, 3-7 MAC) will face their first roadblock tonight at home, as they’ll be taking on Ohio University.

The Bobcats (13-10, 5-5 MAC) have won seven of the past eight MAC championships, but this season OU has had problems filling the void left by a senior class that won 111 games.

Tonight’s match could be a defensive one, as OU and Kent State rank first and second in the MAC in blocks, respectively.

Sue Jacobi is the Bobcats’ standout player and one of the best in the MAC. She leads her team with 376 kills and ranks second in digs with 235. She’ll try to help her team win for the 17th-consecutive time over the Flashes, a streak dating back to 2002.

“We’re not really focusing too much on them,” Sabo said. “We’re focusing on our first kill and how we can beat them. They’re taller than us, but they’re slower than us, so we can beat them by being faster.”

Conley said there’s still no team in the east that’s a clear-cut favorite to win the division. Kent State trails OU and Akron by two games with six remaining. He said the Flashes are fighting for their lives, but they’re still in it.

“If we run the table in the east, we’re probably going to be the east champs,” Conley said. “That’s just the way it is. I think everybody in the east is starting from square one this weekend.

“We’re disappointed with what we’ve accomplished to this point — there’s no question about it. But it’s not over yet.”

Contact Tom Crilley at [email protected].