Jones ready to lead volleyball team’s offense

Tom Crilley

Before Tuesday’s match against Youngstown State, the Kent State volleyball team’s newest setter had never set in a game.

Senior Lauren Jones has been an outside hitter since she was in high school. Despite her lack of setting experience, when Kent State coach Glen Conley called on her to fix the team’s hitting game, she was ready to go.

“I was like, ‘all right, let’s do this,’” she said. “I wasn’t scared. I had worked a little bit in the spring on setting, but I had never actually set in a game before. So I was ready for it. It wasn’t completely out of the blue.”

Jones said she thinks it was good for the younger players to see that she was willing to change positions on short notice.

“We talk about trust in our team, in our coaches and in ourselves a lot,” she said. “I think it’s setting a good example that I have trust in Glen as the coach. He thinks this is a good change, so I am behind him 100 percent of the way, and I’m going to play my hardest all the time.”

The setter runs the offense and sets up hitters for their kills. A team has to have a good setter and the right person playing the position, Conley said. Jones has the hands and the decision-making ability the team needs for that position.

“We need leadership in that position,” he said. “It’s important that we have somebody who is confident and has the belief in herself and in the team that we can win no matter what the score is and no matter what the conditions are. She has that. That was the primary reason we did it.”

Kent State/Mizuno Open

Kent State (6-6) vs. Duquesne, Syracuse, Louisiana Monroe

Where: M.A.C. Center



6 p.m. vs. Duquesne


noon vs. Louisiana Monroe and 7 p.m. vs. Syracuse

Sophomore Zuzana Markova and freshman Aleksandra Nowak had been playing the setter position previously, but Conley thought it was time for a change even though it was a risky move.

“When you’re recruiting people you look at their temperament, and Zuzana’s temperament is best suited to be a hitter,” he said. “Aleksandra is going to be a tremendous setter in the future, but the system is so different from what it is in Poland that it’s just taking her a little bit more time to get adjusted.”

Conley said the team was in between Nowak being ready to set and trying to force Markova to do something that her temperament is not built to do. He had made this type of move before, and it was about doing what was best for the team.

The Flashes’ attack game hasn’t been where it needs to be in recent weeks. Conley said his team needs to average more kills to be successful. Jones appears to be the answer to the problem.

“She really figured it out (against Youngstown State),” he said. “Maigan Larsen ended up lighting it up, and Lauren realized she had a great matchup with Maigan against their setter. That’s what Lauren brings us. She’s going to help us get those kills.”

Jones isn’t attacking right now, even though she has 788 career kills. Conley wants to let her take time to understand her role as a setter before she goes any further.

“It’s sort of like a quarterback who can run,” Conley said. “Right now she’s learning the pocket passing, but once she figures it out, we’ll let her take off.”

Jones will be on the court in her new position this weekend when the Flashes host Duquesne, Syracuse and Louisiana Monroe in the Kent State/Mizuno Open.

–Tom Crilley