‘I believe in this team’

Josh Johnston

Volleyball falls to Buckeyes in weekend finale

Kent State volleyball players huddle together for a few moments before the game against Duquesne University on Friday. The Flashes won 3-0. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Every match at the Kent State/Mizuno Open this weekend ended in straight sets. Unfortunately for Kent State’s volleyball team, Ohio State won the last match.

The Flashes (10-3) lost 25-23, 25-21 and 25-23 to the Buckeyes Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center in the tournament final. Kent State kept the match close, never trailing by more than four points, but sophomore outside hitter Lauren Jones said the Flashes’ errors cost them the match.

“Our mistakes beat us,” she said. “Yeah, (Ohio State) is a good team, but we made too many mistakes. Those mistakes killed us.”

Kent State committed 34 total errors during the match, and Kent State coach Glen Conley said he thought the errors might have been a result of the team trying too hard.

“You sort of get too amped up sometimes,” he said. “That can be a bad thing. You start to try to make things happen instead of letting the ball come to you and playing the game you play.

“We’re good enough to beat this team. We just needed to get in there and take our swings and our serves. That didn’t happen.”

GAME NOTES:

&bull Block party

Kent State shut down Chicago State’s hitters with 11 total blocks – the Flashes’ most in a match this season. Sophomore middle blocker Celia Sabo made a solo block and six assisted blocks to lead the team, but eight different Flashes posted blocks during the match. So far this season, Kent State has outblocked its opponents 94.5 to 53.

&bull It’s li-Barr-o

Sophomore libero Kristen Barr said after the Ohio State match that she wasn’t fazed by facing the Buckeyes’ powerful hitters.

“The more the merrier,” she said. “Bring it on. That’s the way I see it.”

&bull Like daughter, like parents

The Flashes celebrated their parents this weekend during the Duquesne and Ohio State matches. During the Duquesne match intermission, the parents played an exhibition volleyball match, and before the Ohio State match, the players walked on the court with their parents. Senior Ashley Feutz’s father, Michael Feutz, served the first ball. It went into the net.

The Flashes’ hitters had difficulty getting past Ohio State’s middle blockers, 6-foot-2 Kelli Barhorst and 6-foot-3 Anna Szerszen.

“You hit against a 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 block; it’s a big block,” senior outside hitter Ashley Feutz said. “Our goal was to get a lot of high hands and to hit a lot of things high. Sometimes those fell, and sometimes, unfortunately, they fell on our court.”

Kent State did record a higher hitting percentage than Ohio State, but the Buckeyes still blocked the Flashes’ hitters six times. Barhorst and Szerszen made two blocks apiece for Ohio State.

On offense, the Buckeyes took advantage of Kent State’s shorter blockers, Conley said.

“We just had lousy matchups,” he said. “When we had (junior setter Katie Veatch) in the front row, (she’s a) very short blocker, and they’re going to be able to exploit her. We tried moving her across the net. We tried doing all kinds of things. They were good enough to find her most of the time.”

Senior middle blocker Krista Groce said the blockers tried to double up on Ohio State’s better attackers.

“We tried to trap their strong hitters, the players that were hurting us,” Groce said. “Our main focus was to get four hands up on them. Sometimes it (worked), sometimes it didn’t.”

Kent State’s blockers did hold the Buckeyes second-best attacker, Kaila Calhoun, to only four kills and a .000 hitting percentage.

Conley said Ohio State’s powerful attack forced the Flashes to take risks while serving. Kent State made eight service errors during the match.

“We were trying to serve tough,” Feutz said. “On tape, they didn’t look like a very good passing team. Our goal was to serve tough, but we needed to take a little off of it when we started missing that many serves.”

In earlier matches at the tournament, the Flashes swept both Duquesne University and Chicago State.

Kent State only needed an hour Saturday afternoon to defeat Chicago State, which only scored 34 points in the three sets. The Flashes nailed 11 service aces and posted a .338 hitting percentage in the win.

Strong blocking led Kent State past Duquesne in the first match of the weekend on Friday. Junior right side Jenny Keck and sophomore middle blocker Celia Sabo recorded four blocks each. The Flashes took the sets 25-21, 25-19 and 25-21.

Looking back at the weekend, Conley said once his team cleans up the errors, it will be able to beat teams like Ohio State.

“I’m very proud of the way we fight,” he said. “I have tremendous faith in them. I believe in this team.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected]