Volleyball team splits weekend of MAC play

Ashley Sepanski

Flashes lose close match to Toledo to end the weekend

Watch footage from the game.

With the score tied 13-13 in the final set against Toledo Saturday night, the Kent State volleyball team and its fans cheered what they thought was a score to take the lead, but the call was reversed, leading to a Kent State loss.

The Flashes had celebrated a kill by senior outside hitter Arjola Prenga that brought the score to 14-13, but seconds later the officials decided Prenga’s kill was actually an attack error and awarded the point to Toledo.

The match came to an end when a block by senior setter Jenny Keck and freshman outside hitter Meredith Paskert failed to clear the net. Toledo took the set 16-14 and the match 3-2.

“We wanted to win that (match) so much you could taste it, but you have to execute,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said

The Flashes (11-11, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) kept an even record this weekend after they defeated Ball State (25-17, 25-19 and 25-16) on Friday and fell to Toledo (25-14, 25-21, 25-17, 25-21 and 16-14) Saturday.

Against Ball State, the Flashes gained an early lead and pushed the Cardinals to use timeouts and substitutions in an attempt to recover. While the match drove Ball State coach Dave Boos to receive a yellow card, the Flashes cruised through the sets, not using one of their six available timeouts.

With all Cardinals’ efforts having little effect, Kent State shut out Ball State 3-0.

Saturday’s match proved to be more difficult for the Flashes. Conley said the match against Toledo was a test of emotional endurance and control.

“The most impressive thing is self control in these situations,” Conley said. “Being able to control what you want to do, what you’re thinking, and all those things, is an acquired (skill), and you have to be in those situations to learn to deal.”

Prenga said the team stayed focused throughout the match.

“All the girls (were) good,” Prenga said. “If we lost a point, it’s not like we went down. We waited for the next point to come back.”

Conley said after taking the first set, the Flashes did not adapt to the changes Toledo made during the second.

“(Toledo made) adjustments, and their adjustments in that second set were tipping,” Conley said. “We knew they were going to tip, and we just did not execute to defend the tip very well. The tip got them back in the game, and it got them ahead, and it got them confident.

“That’s what it’s all about, who’s riding the confidence wave.”

Repeating the first half of the match, the Flashes won the third set, but dropped the fourth.

“We practiced for this all week, all the time,” Prenga said. “I think we made mistakes (against Toledo) that we (didn’t) need to. It’s not like our other games, or how we (have played) in the past.”

Conley said despite the loss, the Flashes fought hard.

“I think we let our emotions get to us a little bit and that’s (not always bad),” Conley said. “A lot of people think choking is the worst thing that can happen to you, no, no, no, no.

“Choking’s not the worst thing that can happen to a team, and we didn’t choke tonight. The worst thing that can happen to you is tanking, where you don’t even show up, where you make an excuse before you even step on the court.”

The Flashes continue MAC play with away games Friday against Western Michigan and Saturday against Northern Illinois.

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected].