Volleyball team refocuses after loss

Doug Gulasy

The Kent State volleyball team began its season with nine straight victories, setting a program record.

Binghamton became the first team to defeat the Flashes on Sept. 8. Then came a trip to South Carolina for the Clemson Classic, where the Flashes lost to Clemson, Appalachian State and Georgia State to drop to 9-4 on the season.

Despite the losing streak, freshman Kristen Barr said the team is “doing anything but panicking” as it heads into Mid-American Conference play this weekend. Instead the Flashes are trying to regain the form that made them successful earlier this season.

“We’re coming back to the things that have made us win those nine games in a row, like our communication,” she said. “(We’re working on) just the little things — calling the ball, footwork, just everything … to make us go back to where we started.”

Coach Glen Conley also said that the team wasn’t panicking but made a clarification.

“Panic is an emotion that sort of reminds you of running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” he said. “So for that thing of panic, I would say (we’re not panicking).

“But for intensity purposes, we’ve got to get back to playing with an intensity that we were playing with earlier, which we lost a little bit. So maybe we don’t want to hit the panic button — there’s no reason to panic — but we certainly want to ramp up our intensity.”

Conley added that he had to coach better by “holding some people accountable to some of the things we were doing earlier but we may have taken for granted.”

“We’ve become undisciplined defensively, and we’re getting back to that this week,” he said. “We’ve had some good practices with it — we’re working on making better reads and being in position to read the offense.

“We also have lost some focus in our offensive play, what we’re trying to accomplish, what we’re trying to attack and things like that. I think we just started maybe calling plays to call plays, as opposed to attacking specific targets.”

One such target, assistant coach Genoa Moxley said, is playing at a fast pace.

“It’s playing a – I don’t want to say a frenzy – but playing a pace where we’re able to execute our plays, (which) is basically what it comes down to,” she said. “Every (opposing) team’s going to be different, every team’s going to have a different serve, a different hitter that we need to look at, but in the same element, when the ball comes on our side, it’s controlling our box.”

Conley has also been unhappy with uncharacteristic mistakes the team has made, reaching a “low point” in the Clemson Classic.

“It’s not just a hitting error, it’s a hitting error on a bad pass,” he said. “If it’s a bad pass, we’re not trying to crush the ball. We have a good defense. We want to keep our defense in the game, we don’t want to take the ball out of our defense’s hands.”

If the team can get back to what it did earlier this season and avoid making mistakes, Barr might be very happy when the weekend is over.

“I definitely hate losing more than anything, and winning is definitely where it’s at,” she said.

Contact volleyball reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].