Volleyball rallies past Akron for win

Ashley Sepanski

Flashes split road trip with victory in Akron, defeat against Buffalo

The Kent State volleyball team celebrates its 3-1 victory against Akron Saturday night at the James A. Rhodes Arena. Glennis Siegfried | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

After dropping the first game, the Kent State volleyball team rallied to defeat rival Akron at the James A. Rhodes Arena on Saturday.

Kent State (9-9, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) fought out four close sets to take the match. The win came a day after the Flashes lost 3-1 to Buffalo.

“We let one get away (Friday),” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “That was really frustrating for us, but I was glad we came out with some good fire (Saturday).”

The match on Saturday began with the Flashes in the lead for most of the set until Akron seniorLiz Martin made a kill to bring the score to 16-11. The Zips seized the momentum and scored 13 of the next 16 points to take the lead,24-19.

Kent State retaliated, earning five straight points to tie the game at 24-24. The comeback was not enough to give the Flashes an edge, however, as Kent State lost the set 26-24 following two attack errors.

“I feel like the first match we knew (what we were doing),” senior setter Katie Veatch said. “We were up six points, but it was more our errors. We gave them the game.”

After regrouping, the Flashes came back in the next sets. A Kent State attack error brought the score to 24-23, but Akron senior Kara Smith missed her serve to give the Flashes the win.

Kent State and Akron remained tied during the beginning of the third set until the Flashes took six straight points to bring the score to 12-7. Kent State remained in the lead and took the set 25-16 after senior outside hitter Arjola Prenga scored a kill.

“We had a lot of hitting errors (during the first set),” Veatch said. “So it was like learning to calm ourselves down, because it was a big match and just taking care of the ball. After we did that, we were good.”

Kent State pushed through the fourth set to seal the match. After taking the lead and forcing Akron to use both timeouts, a block from freshman outside hitter Meredith Paskert ended the game, 25-20.

“We came together as a team really well, because we had a lot of ups and downs,” Veatch said. “We were able to come back together and say ‘All right, we had a lot of mistakes, now let’s focus on this point.’ We’re really happy that we won.”

Prenga led the team with 19 kills against Akron and 41 for the weekend, followed by sophomore middle blocker Liva Brivule with 13 against the Zips and 30 for the weekend. Sophomore outside hitter Maigan Larsen also made an appearance on Saturday, recording 10 kills.

“When Maigan plays aggressively, it’s impressive to see,” Conley said. “She sure played aggressively (Saturday).”

Friday, Kent State traveled to face Buffalo. The Flashes played out four sets (14-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-27), but could not claim the match. Conley said team errors caused the loss.

“Buffalo just played really, really well,” Conley said. “I felt we played well, but we just made too many service errors and too many errors. We let them have too many points, and that was the hardest part. Our errors were the hardest part.”

Veatch said the Flashes arrived unprepared.

“Our biggest problem was we didn’t come ready to play,” Veatch said. “It took us a whole game to get into it.”

Kent State will next face Miami on Friday and Bowling Green on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.

“Everybody’s sick and beat up right now, but that’s to be expected in early October,” Conley said. “I think on a whole we’re feeling pretty good about things.”

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected]