Volleyball focuses on learning to win

Josh Johnston

Led by Conley, Flashes look to continue success from last season

Junior Brianne Wille tips a ball toward Freshman Lauren Simon and Sophomore Kristen Barr during the Coach-on-Five drill Aug. 11th. DANIEL DOHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Before last year, the Kent State volleyball team was not a force to be reckoned with on the court. The Flashes had failed to post a winning season since 2002, and they lost the last seven matches of the 2006 season.

But that was before coach Glen Conley stepped into the picture.

In his first season at Kent State, Conley coached the team to a 22-10 overall record and a semifinal finish in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Flashes lost to nationally ranked Ohio 3-1 in the semifinals, but the appearance marked the furthest the team had advanced in the tournament in Kent State history. The 22 wins were also the second most in a season in school history.

For your information

2007 record

22-10, 11-5 Mid-American Conference


Glen Conley (second season with Kent State, 19th overall; 373-192 career record)

Key returnees

Seniors Vaiva Laniauskas, Ashley Feutz and Krista Groce, sophomore Lauren Jones

Key departures

Laura Jensen, Anja Knabe-Paulsen, Anne Zakelj

Home court M.A.C. Center

First game Aug. 29 at Colgate

First home game Sept. 19 vs. Duquesne

Conley returns this year for his second season at Kent State looking for the same success as last year. To achieve that, he said the team will need to focus on learning to win.

“(Winning) is a process,” he said. “It’s not something that just happens today and tomorrow you’ve got it. It’s a whole new experience, and they’re going to have to learn how to deal with different people this year.”

Those different people are junior college transfers Tamy Leipelt and Brianne Wille and freshmen Maigan Larsen and Lauren Simon.

Senior captain Vaiva Laniauskas said the new players have already made a positive impact on the team.

“They work hard with themselves and they work hard with us when they’re allowed to,” she said. “They seem very dedicated to the cause, and they believe in what we have to say.”

Despite losing three key seniors to graduation, the Flashes still bring an experienced team to the court. Nine of the 14 players are juniors or seniors. Conley said he feels the team will pick up right where it left off last season.

“I think we’ve got a strong nucleus returning,” he said. “We’ve got some big shoes to fill obviously, but that’s college sports. We’re very athletic right off the bat, and that’s a huge part of what we want to do.”

Not only is the team experienced, but the coach is as well. Conley said he has more of an advantage coming into this season.

“I was a rookie in the MAC (last season),” he said. “I feel like I know the other teams better. I certainly understand how Kent State does things.”

He also has the respect of his team. Laniauskas called Conley the “best coach I’ve ever had in my life.”

“He knows the game so well and he knows how to turn 14 players into one team that wins games,” She said. “He finds every strategy needed. He knows how to manipulate the other team. I have nothing but respect for him as a coach.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].