KSU losing streak continues

Josh Johnston

Senior outside hitter Ashley Feutz tips the ball over the net for the point while playing against Central Michigan Saturday. The Flashes travel to Ball State this Friday. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The Kent State volleyball team showed a glimpse of the team that started the season 12-3 Saturday night.

After losing the first two sets by more than 10 points each to Central Michigan, the Flashes returned to their early-season form in the third set.

The offense moved quickly, setting up attack after attack and keeping the Chippewas from gaining any momentum. The blockers frustrated Central Michigan’s hitters, who made eight errors and only six kills during the set.

The performance pleased Kent State coach Glen Conley, if only for a little while, as the Flashes eventually lost 3-1 to Central Michigan.

“We got back (Saturday) at times to playing the way Kent State volleyball is, the way we expect ourselves to play,” Conley said. “I was happy to see that. We just need to bring those out and keep doing that every time.”

The Flashes (12-7, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) scored the first point of the match with a kill by senior middle blocker Krista Groce. The Chippewas then went on an 11-point streak to put the set out of reach for Kent State.

“When a team comes out of the gate like that,” Conley said about Central Michigan, “that’s the coach’s fault. I have to take complete responsibility for that.”

Kent State continued to give up scoring runs throughout the first two sets. The Chippewas started the second set with a five-point burst and never allowed the Flashes to gain more than three consecutive points in both sets.

“I think what the team has to realize, and what we want them to realize, is they’ve got to fight every ball,” Conley said. “We’re not doing that. We’re giving up points in bunches. When you give up points in bunches, you’re not fighting the ball. You’re putting your head down, and anytime you put your head down and feel sorry for yourself, you’re going to lose.”

Trailing by two sets going into the 10-minute intermission, the Flashes took the time to refocus, senior outside hitter Sarah Kaczuk said.

“We were like, ‘OK, take a deep breath because it’s getting a little crazy,'” she said. “We came back out and the emotion was (that) we’re going to fight for every single point.”

The Flashes beat the Chippewas in the third set 25-12. Kaczuk said while the team doesn’t believe in “moral victories,” the return to the fast offense can give the Flashes a confidence boost.

“It felt really good to get back to that,” she said. “Now that we have gotten back to it, it definitely will be easier to build on it and continue to play Kent State volleyball like that.”

Kent State’s momentum wavered in the fourth set, as both teams traded points and leads. Neither team had a clear advantage until the Chippewas outscored the Flashes 9-2 midway through the set. Central Michigan held on to the lead to win 25-19.

Senior outside hitter Vaiva Laniauskas said Kent State needs to believe in itself despite the four match slump.

“The saying goes, and (Conley) always says it, is, ‘You walk out of this gym when you lose and knowing you’re good still,'” Laniauskas said. “That’s the thing – you’ve got to know you’re good. If you know you’re good, you can do it.”

Game notes

It was a good 10 years

Central Michigan broke an 11-match losing streak against the Flashes. The last time the Chippewas beat Kent State was in 1998.

Return of the block

After only scoring five blocks in the last eight sets they had played, the Flashes stuffed Central Michigan seven times Saturday. Sophomore middle blocker Celia Sabo led the team with three assists and a solo block.

Moving west

Kent State will continue its tour of the MAC West this weekend by playing Ball State and Toledo on the road. The Flashes beat both teams last season.

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].