Volleyball coach eager to spike into the season

Doug Gulasy

First-year Kent State volleyball coach Glen Conley can’t be blamed if he’s eager to get the season started.

Since coming over from Army Jan. 25, Conley has been busy – even though the regular season was already over. Much of the work comes from trying to connect what he did at Army to what he wants to do at Kent State – figuring out what will work and what won’t.

“It was really hectic early on,” Conley said. Over the last few months he has settled into the job, but he is eager to begin the regular season and see how his team looks in action.

One thing Kent State volleyball fans hope Conley remembered to pack when he moved here is his ability to win. The Middlefield native won 142 matches in his eight years at Army and was named Patriot League Coach of the Year three times.

In his 17-year coaching career at Army, Edinboro University and Houghton College, Conley has won 351 matches and has a .659 winning percentage.

Conley said he wants to bring such a winning atmosphere to Kent State with the ultimate goal of winning championships and creating excitement for volleyball.

“There’s not a banner in the M.A.C. (Center) for volleyball, and we want to change that,” Conley said.

To achieve Conley’s goals this season, the team has some improvements to make.

Last year, the Flashes started off well enough. After a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan Oct. 21, the team was 13-9, which included a 6-4 record in Mid-American Conference matches.

The Flashes, however, would drop their final seven matches of the season, including a 3-1 loss to Eastern Michigan in the first round of the MAC Tournament.

Conley said to avoid a similar ending to this season, confidence is key for Kent State. He said the team should have “almost an undying belief” that it is good even after it loses.

“We want to look at (losses) as abnormal,” he said. “That’s not us.”

One thing this year’s team does have is the benefit of experienced players. Last year’s Flashes had just one senior, Sarah Wilber, but this season’s team has three seniors and three juniors among its 15 players season.

Wilber, an All-MAC selection, was a team leader, a role senior Laura Jensen and junior Vaiva Laniauskas will fill for this year’s team, but Conley made sure to add that he had more leadership “beyond them.”

Conley hopes the leadership and experience this year’s team has will help to make his dream of winning at Kent State a reality this season.

“We’re going to be one of the top teams (in the MAC), and we want to do it this year,” he said.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].