Volleyball splits home matches to stay even in the conference

Ashley Sepanski

Kent State sweeps Bowling Green to level record at .500

The Kent State volleyball team broke even for the third straight weekend when it added another win and another loss to its record.

Kent State (10-10, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) lost 3-1 to Miami on Friday before regrouping Saturday to shut out Bowling Green.

Junior outside hitter Lauren Jones said the loss against Miami drove the team to put away Bowling Green.

“Because of (Friday), losing, it kind of lights a fire under your butt, and you don’t want to lose again,” Jones said. “I feel like that kind of pushed us a little more to have that desire to win.”

The Flashes used that drive to overcome Bowling Green’s 14-8 lead in the first set with a run started by sophomore middle blocker Liva Brivule’s kill. Junior libero Kristen Barr then served her way through seven more points to bring the score to 16-14.

Kent State maintained the lead and, after two aces, took the set with a kill by senior outside hitter Arjola Prenga. Prenga recorded seven of her 17 kills in the first set.

The second set proceeded with short runs for both teams. The Flashes and the Falcons tied each other five times before two Kent State timeouts and a Bowling Green attack error ended the game 25-21 to put the Flashes up 2-0.

Bowling Green opened the third set with four straight points before Kent State came back and took the lead. After dropping two set points, the Flashes took a time out at 24-20 and put away the match with a kill from junior middle blocker Celia Sabo.

“I was a little concerned (Saturday) because at the end of a couple of these games we made some mistakes,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “It just had to get cleaned up. Overall, though, I was very impressed with the way they played tonight.”

Friday, the Flashes opened up the match against Miami with a win in the first set. After a kill and service ace by Prenga, Kent State forced Miami into a timeout at 22-19. After the timeout, Kent State took three of the next four points to win 25-20.

The success did not last as Miami came back to win the next three sets 25-18, 25-21 and 25-23. Jones said capturing the first set led to the team’s downfall.

“Since we came out and won the first game, we kind of relaxed a little bit and we can’t do that,” Jones said. “We can’t expect a team to just let us win, we have to keep working from point one all the way to the end.”

Kent State averaged about 11 errors per set against the RedHawks, including 11 service errors for the match.

“You can’t do that to a good team,” Conley said. “They’re going to beat you.”

Jones and Conley said they have confidence in the Flashes to defeat Miami the next time they face off Nov. 14 in Oxford.

“(Miami) hits really, really well,” Conley said. “We are definitely going to have to change our defense and our blocking skills and probably our serving. Our offense is good enough to win, though. I think our offense is coming (along).”

Kent State will continue MAC play at home this weekend with a match against Ball State at 7 p.m. Friday in the M.A.C. Center.

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected]