Flashes lose in five sets to NIU
It’s a story that’s been all too familiar this season for the Kent State volleyball team.
Up 2-1 over Northern Illinois in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament last night, the Flashes had victory within reach. Their hopes of an upset in DeKalb, Ill., turned into nightmares as the Huskies rallied to take the final two sets of the match for the win.
“We had them, and we were right there with them the whole match,” sophomore libero Lauren Jones said. “It was a battle, and we fought hard, but it didn’t fall our way.”
The 3-2 loss mirrored Kent State’s year perfectly. The season started with promise with a 12-3 first half, but then ended in disappointment as the Flashes lost 14 of their last 15 matches.
“This season has not gone as we’ve hoped, and we didn’t reach our goals,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “That’s always tough when you work so hard. But you know, that’s sports, and that’s life. There’s no guarantees that just because you work hard that it’s going to turn out well for you.”
Junior middle blocker Lindsay Daniels and classmate outside hitter Tamy Leipelt, both recent standouts on the team, recorded 11 and 16 kills to lead the team. Daniels also contributed a team-high of eight blocks.
“I knew we had to fight, and I knew it was going to be a battle the whole time,” Daniels said. “I just had to do my job at middle blocker. My job is to be up for the quick (kills) and put some blocks up. I just did my best to do my job. Setters set me great sets. It was a team effort.”
The Flashes gave up key runs to Northern Illinois in the second, fourth and fifth sets. Although Kent State was able to keep the sets close, the strings of unanswered points cost the Flashes the match.
“When we gave up the run, that made it tougher,” Conley said. “…We fought back like crazy. We were right in there, but we gave up five, six points at the beginning of those games (two and four) that we shouldn’t have done. That’s why we lost tonight – too many runs.”
Jones said too many errors by Kent State decided the close match.
“We just made a few more mistakes than them,” she said. “Basically that’s what it came down to. We battled back and forth for every minute, just (we made) more mistakes.”
The Flashes can’t dwell on the disappointing end to their season, Conley said. And for the last few matches, they haven’t.
“We’ve already put this season behind us I think,” Conley said. “If you look at the way we played the last few games, we’re coming out of it. We’re going to get a W. It doesn’t look like it maybe. It doesn’t feel like it. It’s gonna turn. It’s not who we are. We’re the team that fights, and we did fight. It just hasn’t showed up on the scoreboard yet, but it will.”
Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected]