Web Exclusive: Flashes hungry for wins against Bowling Green, Miami this weekend

Josh Johnston

The sound of feet pounding up and down the bleachers in the M.A.C. Center nearly drowned out Kent State volleyball coach Glen Conley’s yelling. The team had just committed too many hitting errors during a practice yesterday afternoon and were now paying the price.

“We need it,” senior defensive specialist Sarah Kaczuk said about the practice. “The intensity, that’s like the swagger we talk about that as a team we’ve been missing in matches.”

Even though the Flashes (13-12, 3-9 Mid-American Conference) have lost nine of their last ten matches, they have not stopped working in practice. A day before Bowling Green visits, and two days before Miami arrives at the M.A.C. Center, Kent State is already confident of two wins.

“We’re expecting two ass-whoopings this weekend by us to BG and Miami,” senior middle blocker Krista Groce said. “We’re just really focusing on getting back to us – getting back to the high energy, getting back to having a high-morale team on the court. In practice, we’re just working on busting our butts.”

The Flashes have not won a match since playing at Ball State on Oct. 17. Kent State’s current five-match losing streak includes losses to both MAC East and West bottom-dwellers Buffalo and Toledo.

Both the Falcons and the RedHawks won when the Flashes traveled to their home courts. This time around, the team is more prepared to face the two of the MAC East’s leading teams, Kaczuk said.

“I think we have a really good game plan, really good lineup,” she said. “We are hungrier than we were last time. We didn’t want it as bad last time as we do this time, and hopefully that’ll show.”

The Matches

Kent State (13-12, 3-9 Mid-American Conference) vs. Bowling Green (20-7, 9-3) and Miami (15-9, 9-3)

When:: 7 p.m. today and 5 p.m. tomorrow (senior night)

Where:: M.A.C. Center

Bowling Green will come into the match against the Flashes with a six-match winning streak on the line. Last weekend, the Falcons upset the top teams in both the east and west divisions to move into a three-way tie for first in the MAC East.

The RedHawks, on the other hand, have struggled lately, losing two of its last three matches. Miami has swept Kent State in the schools’ last four meetings, dating back to the 2006 season.

Still, the Flashes seem more confident than they have since the conference season started. When asked how badly she wanted to win, Groce said losing isn’t even an option for the team right now.

“It’s coming down to we are going to (win),” she said. “We’re making it in our heads and in our thoughts that we’re not going to give BG a choice but to walk out of our gym with a loss. Same thing with Miami. They’re going to have a loss when they get out of here. We’re definitely coming in with the mentality that we’re going to take control this weekend. We’re pumped, can’t wait to go.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].