Kent State volleyball uses quick offense

Flashes win tourney after sluggish loss to host Air Force

Junior libero Kristen Barr runs shuttles while being timed by Coach Glen Conley during practice last week in the M.A.C. Center. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The Kent State volleyball team won its third consecutive tournament this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo. But the team also made its third consecutive sluggish start.

The Flashes (8-2) lost their first match of the weekend to tournament host Air Force in five games. So far this season, Kent State is 1-2 in weekend openers.

“It’s a disturbing trend,” Kent State coach Glen Conley said. “(It had) probably better get fixed pretty quick, or it’s going to be a long season.”

Kent State took the first game against the Falcons, 25-19. Air Force never trailed in the second game, winning 25-16, and edged the Flashes by two points in game three.

The Flashes benefited from a 10-3 run midway through the fourth game to force a fifth set, but they tied at 14 points apiece in the fifth game. Air Force’s Kristina Stewart nailed two kills to end the match.

“We just weren’t aggressive against them,” freshman setter Lauren Simon said. “We didn’t play our speed of the game. We played with them.”

Kent State committed 24 attack errors and eight serving errors in the loss. Four Air Force players recorded double-digit kills during the match.

“We made them look pretty good,” Conley said. “We didn’t serve worth a lick. We served very easily. They were able to be in their offense the whole time.”

The loss marked the only defeat this weekend for the Flashes, though. Kent State finished out the weekend with wins over North Carolina Central, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Florida Atlantic.

Air Force Academy

tournament

Vs. Air Force: L 3-2 (25-19, 16-25, 23-25, 25-17, 14-16)

Vs. North Carolina Central:

W 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-14)

Vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: W 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-13)

Vs. Florida Atlantic: W 3-2 (22-25, 25-27, 25-13, 25-18, 15-8)

Kent State swept both North Carolina Central and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the middle matches of the tournament. The Flashes only took 55 minutes to beat North Carolina Central, winning 25-14, 25-11 and 25-14. Against the Islanders, the Flashes committed only eight hitting errors and posted a .346 hitting percentage.

After losing the first two games to Florida Atlantic, the Flashes rallied to take the next three games and the win.

Blocking adjustments made during the match keyed the victory, senior middle blocker Krista Groce said.

“We call it ‘serve and block,'” she said. “If we’re serving, then we’ll put in one of our strong blockers so we can try and shut down their offense.”

Conley said the changes in blocking assignments slowed down Owls’ hitters Krystena Castro, Morgan Johns and Anne Vaughan. Florida Atlantic made 32 kills in the first two games, but the Flashes’ blocking limited the Owls to just 25 in the next three games.

Still, Conley said his biggest worry was the team’s slow tournament starts.

“I know it’s been three long road trips and it’s easy to blame stuff,” he said, “but honestly, you start making excuses and it allows you to fail. We’re certainly not going to go there.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].