Buffalo ends Flashes’ season

Ashley Sepanski

The Kent State volleyball team fell to Buffalo yesterday at the M.A.C. Center to end its season after a tight five-set battle in the first round of Mid-American Conference Tournament play.

Kent State coach Glen Conley said the team had the desire to win, but it just could not pull out the victory.

“There’s no question how hard our girls really wanted it and how hard they fought, but I think, in the end, they ended up fighting themselves,” Conley said. “I think that’s probably what it was. We were fighting ourselves and Buffalo.”

The match began with Kent State in the lead. By the time the Flashes reached set point, Buffalo was 11 points behind. After a service error and an attack error, a kill by senior setter Jenny Keck ended the set 25-15.

Keck earned a triple-double after the match with 10 kills, 43 assists and 11 digs.

“(Keck) did everything she (could), and I thought everybody did,” Conley said. “I thought we played well, but Keck (was) playing with such confidence towards the end of the season. It’s just phenomenal, and, gosh, we’re going to miss her.”

During the following four sets, both teams came out to fight for the win. The Flashes were close behind Buffalo before it took the second set by two points at 25-23. Kent State came back to fight off the Bulls and take the third set with another Keck kill at 25-23.

Conley said the Flashes focused on attacking Buffalo’s right side as well as getting around the Bulls’ defense.

“We were talking most about trying to get good swings against their right side blockers,” Conley said. “After game two, though, we knew they were going to pick up their defensive intensity, and that’s exactly what happened. We just were never able to get into a good rhythm offensively.”

Buffalo took an early lead during the fourth set and earned the win at 25-19 after a Kent State service error. Conley said anxiety played a role in the loss.

“What we tried to talk about was playing with intensity, not ‘tensity’,” Conley said. “I think we played with tensity every point after the first game. Overall, throughout the rest of the night, games two through five, there was a tension on us that we could never shake.”

Kent State led the fifth set at 7-2 after scoring five straight points. Buffalo rallied and came back, however, scoring 10 of 12 points to bring the score to 12-9. The Bulls overcame service errors and Kent State kills and took the match at 15-13.

“We just made dumb decisions and didn’t execute at certain points, and that’s what gave them the edge,” junior libero Kristen Barr said. “We let it slip away and we’re the better team, but not tonight.”

Conley said despite the loss, he was still proud of the team.

“I’m proud of our girls,” Conley said. “I still believe in this team. You can say whatever you want, but I still believe in this team. It’s a tough way to go out. I feel worse for the players because I know how hard they worked.”

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected].