‘Bulldog’ leads Flashes to successful weekend

Cody Erbacher

The drive of one Kent State volleyball player pushed the entire team to a winning season-opening weekend.

The drive of one Kent State volleyball player pushed the entire team to a winning season-opening weekend.

Junior outside hitter Maigan Larsen posted 34 kills and five service aces en route to leading the Flashes to a 3-1 weekend in the Spartan Classic at Norfolk State. For her efforts, Larsen was named to the Spartan Classic All-Tournament Team.

“She’s not the biggest member or the tallest member on the court, but she plays like it,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “She brings the fight and the determination that we’re going to win this match, and that goes a long way.”

Conley said the team calls Larsen “the Bulldog” as a nickname because of the attitude she brings into each match.

“She is tenacious,” he said. “She comes out and goes 100 percent from the very first serve until the very last.”

This season’s 3-1 start is a morale boost for the roster after failing to pull out a victory in its first seven matches last season.

“Last year, we were in a completely different situation,” said Conley about his team that brings seven new players. “There was a lot of chemistry and communication issues starting last season, but we had to go through that in order to get where we are at now.”

During the Spartan Classic, Kent State proved communication wouldn’t be a major issue in the early games of the season.

“I felt like there were only a couple games where we hit some speed bumps where the communication wasn’t where it needed to be,” Conley said. “We addressed those issues, and I think we were able to get them corrected.”

But the weekend wasn’t completely positive for the Flashes. The team learned its previously solid blocking skills weren’t up to par against live competition.

“We got to see some of our weaknesses against live competition,” Conley said. “We’ll have to head back to the gym to fix those.

“Traditionally, we’ve been one of the stronger blocking teams in the conference. Our blocking was just not where we needed it to be.”

The Flashes struggled with blocking primarily in the team’s only loss against UNC Greensboro, who went undefeated in the Spartan Classic.

Kent State beat Providence College 3-0 prior to the loss, and then finished the tournament with 3-0 and 3-1 wins against Navy and Norfolk State, respectively.

Kent State opens its home schedule at M.A.C. Center on Tuesday against Pittsburgh.

Contact assistant sports editor Cody Erbacher at [email protected].