Volleyball upsets Miami 3-0, seals home-court advantage

Ashley Sepanski

The Kent State volleyball team secured home-court advantage for the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament after sweeping Miami in Oxford this weekend.

The Flashes’ victory over Miami was its first since the 2004 Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Conley said a complete offense and defense led by senior outside hitter Arjola Prenga came together to shut out Miami.

“Arjola Prenga just dominated tonight. Her hitting line, great defense, great leadership, you just can’t say enough about her.”

Prenga led the evening with 19 kills and zero errors on 39 attempts, giving her a .487 hitting percentage. Prenga also earned a double-double with 11 digs.

“I am a little shocked,” Prenga said. “I don’t know (what) to say. Of my nine years (playing volleyball), 19 kills, it’s like ‘Huh.’ When I saw the stats I was like ‘Oh my god Arjola.'”

With the win, Kent State (14-16, 7-9 MAC) has won three of its last four matches. Last Thursday, the Flashes lost to Bowling Green in five sets. Conley said overall the team was determined to win Saturday.

“It was one of the most complete matches we’ve played all year,” Conley said. “I was very impressed. I just think the work ethic and the will to compete really won the day.”

Before the match, Conley devised a new lineup. Freshman middle blocker Kathy Krupa entered the match as a middle hitter, moving freshman middle blocker Meredith Paskert to hit outside.

Krupa said the team had very little time to practice the new setup.

“This was put together (Friday),” Krupa said. “We didn’t have practice (Saturday) morning, so it was kind of like we had an hour and a half to practice this and get it down.”

The Flashes trailed the RedHawks in the first set before a kill by Prenga and a Miami attack error put Kent State up 18-17. Both teams exchanged points before a Miami kill gave the RedHawks set point.

Two Prenga kills reversed the situation and gave the Flashes set point, but Miami and Kent State battled back and forth before kills by Paskert and Prenga ended the set, 31-29.

During the second set, both teams were either tied or within a few points of each other until a Kent State service error gave Miami another set point. The Flashes took the set, however, with two Prenga kills and a Miami attack error.

“(Miami) threw some balls at us, they tipped, they got us all mixed up and out of system, but we just talked and called each other’s names and put the ball back down on their floor,” Krupa said. “(Miami is) second in the MAC right now, and we just wanted to win this game so badly.”

Kent State rolled through the third set, scoring five straight points to force Miami into a timeout at 7-3. The Flashes maintained the lead following the timeout and ended the set, 25-16, with a kill by Krupa.

Conley said the team played with confidence.

“We just didn’t lose our focus,” Conley said. “We didn’t lose our nerve, and (we were) competing hard, and it just felt right for us. We made some good plays in the end and that was exciting. “

Kent State will begin play in the MAC Tournament at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against Buffalo in the M.A.C. Center. Prenga said Conley has the team ready to play.

“(Conley) believes in us so much,” Prenga said. “We are so excited for our next game in our gym at Kent State.”

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected]

Milestone reached

49 Kent State (2007-present)

142 Army (1999-2006)

14 Houghton College (1994)

+195 Edinboro (1986-1993)


Coach of the Year Honors: Patriot League (2002, 2004 and 2005) and Pennsylvania State Athletic League (1990 and 1991).