Volleyball hits ‘low point’

Josh Johnston

Team continues slide with weekend losses at Akron and Buffalo

Freshman Lauren Simon sets the ball for junior Brianne Wille on Friday night against Akron. The Flashes were defeated 3-0 and lost again Saturday, 3-0 against Buffalo. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State volleyball coach Glen Conley is not pointing any fingers.

After five straight losses by his team, including two this weekend at Akron and Buffalo, Conley puts the fault on himself.

“If you look at it, you’ve got to blame the head coach,” he said. “Obviously the same players who went 12-3 have now lost nine out of the last 10 (matches). It’s the same team. I think the buck stops here.”

The Kent State volleyball team fell to 3-9 in the Mid-American Conference after being swept by Akron on Friday and Buffalo on Saturday. Akron entered the match Friday in fifth place in the MAC East, a game behind Kent State, and the Bulls’ win over the Flashes was their first conference victory this season. Both teams lost to Kent State at the beginning of the MAC season.

“Everybody’s pretty miserable right now,” Conley said. “Nobody feels good after losing, especially after losing to two teams you beat pretty easily earlier in the season. It’s definitely a low point.”

The Flashes failed to hold enough momentum to win any sets, assistant coach Ernest Vasquez said. Kent State never put together a run longer than four points in either match played this weekend.

“We couldn’t get any mojo going,” Vasquez said. “It was like we scored one, and then some odd thing would happen and we just couldn’t get a roll or a string of points together. It’s pretty hard to win a match if you’re not gaining enough momentum over the other team to put them away.”

Game Notes:

&bull Dealing aces: Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Jones fired off five service aces against Buffalo, the most in a single match for the Flashes this season.

&bull Five in a row: The five consecutive losses mark the longest losing streak for the Flashes since the 2006 season. That year, Kent State lost its last seven matches.

&bull Returns/departures: The volleyball team will honor both its alumni and its seniors this weekend. Kent State’s matches against Bowling Green and Miami are part of Alumni Weekend, and Saturday night’s match is Senior Night for the Flashes’ four seniors.

In the first set against Buffalo, Kent State led 17-11 before giving up 12 of the next 15 points to fall behind.

“I think that was the turning point in the match,” Conley said. “We fought really hard to get that lead, and we were playing pretty well. We made a lot of hitting errors. We had a boatload of hitting errors. We gave them a lot of points. You cannot give points away, especially in a 25-point game.”

Kent State made 20 total hitting errors against Buffalo. With only 28 kills to back those errors, the Flashes recorded their lowest hitting percentage of the season at .070.

The Flashes hit slightly better against the Zips the night before, with a .121 hitting percentage, but eight serving errors and six reception errors hindered Kent State.

Vasquez said the team needs to improve the basics – passing and serving – in order to win.

“I think a lot of people try to look at the most complicated aspects of the sport and be like: ‘We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to do that. This is falling apart,'” he said, “but realistically, it’s just the simple things that fall apart first. If you can’t execute those, then you’re not going to win. So for us it’s going to be defense, and it’s going to be serving tough.”

The next three matches for Kent State come against MAC East leaders Bowling Green, Miami and Ohio. Conley said the Flashes won’t give up on the season just yet.

“I think the only thing that there is to say is that we’re not going to give up on each other,” he said. “We’re just going to keep plugging. We’re going to fight to stay together as a team.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].