Flashes swept away by Ohio

Josh Johnston

Team loses third straight

ght points behind late in the third set last night, the Kent State volleyball team kept fighting. The entire bench stood and shouted plays as the Flashes rallied for an 8-3 run to come within three points of Ohio.

The Bobcats began to break. A service error. Three consecutive hitting errors.

The crowd of more than 300, silent for most of the match, suddenly took interest in what was happening on the floor of the M.A.C. Center.

Kent State’s late surge, however, was not enough to overcome the Bobcats, as Ohio rolled to a 3-0 win, taking the sets 25-17, 25-23 and 25-21.

“I don’t think we ever completely gave up on any of it,” senior outside hitter Ashley Feutz said. “We kept trying. Hopefully, that will work eventually.”

The Flashes (12-6, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) had leads in both the first and second sets until Ohio called timeouts. The Bobcats made a 5-0 and 6-1 run to take the lead after each timeout.

“(Ohio coach Ryan Theis) just reminded his players of what they were supposed to be doing,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “They did the exact same things the whole time. We didn’t stop them. When you know what’s coming and you don’t stop it, what do you want to do?”

Once Ohio gained a lead, Kent State was never able to come back. Conley said the team lacked a competitive edge.

“We’re not running the offense,” he said. “I’ve got about a million things I could critique tonight. I don’t have to wait to get back into the film room. We’re not competing. Bottom line.”

The Flashes tried using a 6-2 offense against Ohio. In the offense, the setter stays in the back row so three taller hitters can be at the net. The offense was supposed to improve the team’s blocking, but junior setter Katie Veatch said the players were unable to carry out the plan.

“We didn’t follow through,” she said. “It’s not that it was new, we just didn’t execute correctly. It didn’t have anything to do with anyone but ourselves.”

Kent State only recorded two blocks during the match, its lowest amount this season. Conley said the poor blocking hurt the Flashes’ overall defense.

“It’s very difficult for us to play good defense when we don’t have blocks,” he said. “Blocking’s about desire and passion, and we’re not competing right now. It’s disappointing to me.”

On offense, the team struggled against Ohio’s tough defense. The Flashes only hit 34 kills and recorded a .194 percentage.

Last night’s loss marked Kent State’s third straight. Conley said he plans to start making changes to get the team back on track.

“Everything’s on the table right now: every player, everything,” he said. “You can’t go into conference matches and play like this and expect to be competitive. That’s the state of things right now, and we’re going to have to get them fixed.”

Tomorrow, the Flashes will host Central Michigan, its first MAC West opponent of the season, at 7 p.m.

Feutz said Kent State is trying to stay positive through the losing streak.

“We’re trying to keep our heads up,” she said. “We really need to come together as a team. That’s been one of the biggest struggles these last three games. We need to compete. We’re trying to find who wants to compete and how we’re going to compete. Our gym needs to be the most competitive gym in the country.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].