Volleyball hopes to turn season around

Josh Johnston

Team travels to Akron, Buffalo this weekend

The Kent State volleyball team will look to end a three-match losing streak against the first Mid-American Conference opponents it beat this season – Akron and Buffalo.

The Flashes (13-10, 3-7 MAC) will travel to James A. Rhodes Arena to take on the Zips at 7 p.m. tonight. Tomorrow, Kent State will play Buffalo at 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.

Senior outside hitter Ashley Feutz said beating both MAC East teams earlier this season can either help or hurt the Flashes.

“You don’t want to go into a game thinking, ‘Oh, well, we’ve already beat them,'” she said. “(But) it’s a nice little confidence that we can do it, that there’s no question that we can beat this team.”

A little confidence might be what Kent State needs right now. Since winning against Buffalo and Akron in the final weekend of September, the Flashes have lost seven of their last eight matches.

“I think the last few weeks have been very humbling,” Feutz said. “We’re working our tail off in the gym to make sure we come out with a win this weekend.”

The losses have given the Flashes more determination to win, senior outside hitter Vaiva Laniauskas said.

“We are definitely not a team that lays down and is like, ‘Oh crap,'” she said. “We’re definitely like: ‘Go get ’em. Get back in this gym and make the change.’ It really matters at the end what you do.”

With six MAC matches left in the season, Kent State can still turn its season around, Feutz said. No team in the conference is undefeated, and the No. 4 Flashes trail No. 2 Ohio and Bowling Green in the MAC East by four matches.

“The conference is really messed up,” Feutz said. “Everyone’s losing to everyone. Even though we have a lot more losses than we want, we’re still not out of it.”

First, though, Kent State will need to win this weekend. Kent State coach Glen Conley said the team’s serving, which has caused problems in previous weeks, will hopefully help turn the Flashes around.

“We’ve been working a lot on (serving) for the past few weeks,” he said. “That’s an issue that we’ve been working to correct, and I think we’ve been making progress. I think that’s going to be one of our pluses this weekend.”

The Flashes are not planning to try anything different the second time around against Akron and Buffalo, Laniauskas said.

“We’ve stuck to our guns,” she said. “We’ve changed our lineup a couple of times, but otherwise we’ve stuck to the swing offense, we’re sticking to swing blocking.

“We’ve got to stick to our guns and make it work.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].