New faces help volleyball team prepare for rematch with Pittsburgh

Ashley Sepanski

The Kent State volleyball team had a positive spring season with a winning streak. The Flashes’ success, however, was interrupted by Pittsburgh.

Kent State will have another chance to face the Panthers at 7 tonight in Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House.

Kent State saw Pittsburgh twice during the spring preseason in April. The Flashes were defeated 16-25 and 22-25 at the Kent State Tournament held in the M.A.C. Center, ending a three-match winning streak. The following weekend they fell to the Panthers again at Ohio State’s spring tournament.

“(Pittsburgh) is a good team,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “Both times we played them it was a tough game.”

Conley said the team is now running new transitions and applying new strategies to prepare for upcoming matches. Conley said he expects the Panthers to play hard.

After finishing the spring season with a 14-2-2 record, the Panthers have won two out of three matches this season. Junior outside hitter Amy Town and senior middle hitter Meagan Dooley lead the team in kills and blocks. Town recorded 53 kills in the team’s opening weekend, while Dooley is currently ranked sixth overall in career block assists.

Conley said the Flashes are improving and have players ready to compete. Freshman outside hitter Meredith Paskert joined the Flashes as a three-year varsity letter winner for Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School. Paskert also opened the season with 43 kills and 10 aces.

Also leading the team is junior libero Kristen Barr, who finished the opening weekend with 31 digs, while sophomore middle blocker Liva Brivule recorded 40 kills.

Brivule traveled 4,000 miles from Riga, Latvia, to join the Flashes this season. She played for the University of Latvia for three years before transferring to Kent State. Other new international members of the team include freshman setter Zuzana Markova from the Czech Republic and senior outside hitter Arjola Prenga from Albania.

Conley said the team is working on developing a better sense of team chemistry to play well.

“We had a good pre-season, and we’ve got seven new players,” he said. “We need to get comfortable to compete, and we need to find a system that works.”

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected].