Energy leads to success in New York for volleyball team over the weekend

Josh Johnston

There was a difference between the Kent State volleyball team that played Friday night at the Colgate Classic in Hamilton, N.Y., and the team that played Saturday: energy.

After a loss to Colgate University in their first game of the season, the Flashes (2-1, 0-0 MAC) came back Saturday to beat Boston College and West Virginia University.

Kent State coach Glen Conley said the team lacked energy and preparation against Colgate, which beat the Flashes 3-1.

“We came in a little flat-footed on Friday night, and I think we learned a big lesson there,” he said. “That’s something we can take in, and I don’t think that will happen again.”

Sophomore Lauren Jones said coming into Saturday, the team needed to prove itself.

“We didn’t feel we played Kent State volleyball (Friday night),” she said, “so we wanted to come back in the gym and show everyone what Kent State volleyball really was.”

After dropping the first game to Boston College 25-22, the Flashes rallied to take the next three games, 25-20, 25-14 and 25-19.

Kent State kept the energy up to sweep West Virginia in three games to finish the weekend at 2-1. Jones said the team focused on winning just five points at a time against West Virginia.

“Thinking of it like that, it’s focusing on those five points, and so we keep our energy up for five points,” she said. “Then we focus on the next five points and keep our energy up for that. So it’s not just a long, drawn-out process.”

Conley said lineup changes also helped the Flashes because the changes took better advantage of the Flashes speed.

“We were getting a little bit slow against Colgate the night before,” he said. “We like to play at a really fast speed, so when we made some of the lineup switches, we were working into that fast tempo.”

Saturday’s lineup used freshman setter Lauren Simon, who recorded a combined 56 assists in the matches against Boston College and West Virginia.

“(Simon’s) setting helped us keep the tempo fast,” Conley said. “Also, she can attack on the front row. That puts a lot of pressure on the opponent.”

Freshman Maigan Larsen also saw action Saturday, notching nine kills against Boston College and five kills against West Virginia.

Senior Ashley Feutz said the two freshmen have already made an impact on the team. Despite being freshmen, Feutz said they are an equal part of the team.

“One of our main goals is to make sure we don’t have any class systems, really,” she said. “The first day they start practice they’re a Kent State volleyball player, and I think that’s the way we look at everyone. No one’s better than anyone else – we all put in our sweat.”

Conley said this weekend showed Kent State what it needs to work on in the coming weeks. The Flashes are normally very strong at recovering from a bad pass or other mistakes, but they were not this weekend, Conley said.

“We got into some situations were we just weren’t as comfortable as we needed to be,” he said.

Senior Vaiva Laniauskas said the Flashes aren’t “as good yet as we should be.”

“I think we have a lot of work to do, and we’re going to keep working in order to win that (MAC) championship in the end,” Laniauskas said.

This weekend Kent State will travel to Orono, Maine, for the University of Maine tournament.

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].