Volleyball sweeps weekend tournament

Ashley Sepanski

Flashes get three wins at tournament

After tallying up the longest losing streak in school history, the Kent State volleyball team is slowly evening out the numbers.

The Flashes added three more matches to their list of wins this weekend at the Raider Challenge in Dayton, bringing their season record to 4-7. Kent State is now on a four-match winning streak dating back to last Sunday’s shut out against Cornell.

Kent State coach Glen Conley said the team plans to stay dedicated and focused despite the recent wins.

“We can’t be any higher today than we were the first weekend,” Conley said. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us.”

The Flashes defeated tournament host Wright State on Saturday after five sets to finish the tournament undefeated. The Flashes took the first set 25-18 before losing the next two 20-25 and 17-25. Kent State recaptured the win in the fourth and fifth sets 26-24 and 15-5.

“The tournament was scheduled great,” Conley said. “(St. Peter’s and Evansville) were tough, but Wright State is a tremendous team.”

Kent State also defeated Evansville on Saturday 3-2 and shut out St. Peter’s 3-0 Friday. Conley said excellent passing allowed the Flashes to succeed over the weekend.

“It gave us a chance to run offense,” Conley said. “The main thing is it gave us a chance to beat teams.”

Conley said having multiple players step up all weekend also contributed to Kent State’s victories. Sophomore middle blocker Liva Brivule was named MVP of the tournament and to the all-tournament team. Brivule totaled 40 kills and 14 blocks for the weekend.

Also named to the all-tournament team, senior outside hitter Arjola Prenga and freshman middle blocker Meredith Paskert led the team with kills and digs. Prenga recorded 60 kills and 55 digs, while Paskert scored 32 kills during the challenge.

Conley said junior middle blocker Ceila Sabo led the team’s defense by calling blocks. Junior libero Kristen Barr also secured the team by covering “hot spots,” or holes left by middle blockers on the court.

“We had several players step up,” Conley said. “Jen (Keck) hit a ball from her knees, and Arjola was digging balls coming out of nowhere.”

Sabo said the Flashes fought hard all weekend, especially against Wright State.

“They were a stronger team, and we had to outwork them,” Sabo said. “Which we did. The bus is happy right now.”

After a successful weekend, the team is ready to get back to work. A team meeting followed each match to discuss the win and refocus.

Conley said the team will need to get back in the gym and work hard to improve this week.

“We’re starting to develop that chemistry and trust,” Conley said. “But we’re a long way from where we’re capable of being.”

Conley said three weeks on the road have started to pay off.

“It’s been a long three weeks, we tried to gel on the road,” Conley said. “I think living together is having an effect.”

The Flashes will next play in the Kent State/Mizuno Open, the team’s first home game of the season. Conley said the team researches every opponent with video footage to break them down step by step. The Flashes attempt to analyze every player, Conley said, and have “a boatload of film to watch Monday.”

Sabo said the Flashes are thrilled for their first home game.

“We’re very excited,” Sabo said. “All the families will be there. It should be a full gym.”

Kent State will first take on Robert Morris at 11 a.m. Friday, followed by Utah State at 7 p.m.

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected].