Volleyball loses third straight game, refocuses for next weekend

Coming off its worst defeat of the season last Saturday, the Kent State volleyball team had hoped to bounce back in its second Mid-American Conference weekend. 

Instead, the Flashes struggled to their worst hitting percentages of the season and fell to Toledo in three sets in both of this weekend’s games. 

“Offensively, we have work to do, and we’re trying to figure out our plan with who we have,” coach Don Gromala said. “Even with the people we have, we’re not having the ability to prepare adequately throughout the week.”

KSU lost all three of Friday’s sets, playing a close second set but still falling 26-24. The team then struggled Saturday, never scoring above 20 points in a set. 

“Toledo played good defense,” Gromala said. “We need to get our middles back to a good rhythm, which we didn’t have this weekend. The opposite positions need to be more consistent to produce.”

KSU is now 6-10 and tied for fourth in the MAC East with Ohio with a 1-3 conference record. OU is 1-13 overall. Bowling Green (8-6, 4-0 in the MAC) swept its weekend to remain first in the East. Western Michigan (12-4, 5-0 MAC) leads the West. Toledo is 12-4 and tied for second in the West with a 3-1 conference record. 

On Friday, Kent State hit -.048 against the Rockets, having more attack errors than kills. On Saturday, they hit .059. Their .063 hitting percentage in the second set was the best the team managed all weekend. 

“Players are getting into more competitive scenarios than they are used to,” Gromala said. “We know that we need to take care of the ball and be aggressive with our attacking spots.”

Gromala said that lineup changes from weekend to weekend have also affected the team’s playing.

“We’re working through some things with our lineup and trying to figure out what’s best,” Gromala said. “We had some different service-receive formations with people in different spots, and it takes time to get comfortable.”

Freshman setter Kiersten Kraus started Friday’s game as an opposite hitter, earning four kills. She hit five kills Saturday. 

“She did great considering the scenario with how much she has gotten to train,” Gromala said. “It’s a big adjustment for players that haven’t been on the court very much like Kiersten or our other freshmen.”

The Flashes play Central Michigan at 6 p.m. Friday and Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. Saturday in the M.A.C. Center. 

Central Michigan is 7-9 and fifth in the West. Eastern Michigan is 6-9 and sixth in the West.

“We have a lot of work to do as a staff and as a program,” Gromala said. “We’re going to figure that out for next week.”

Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].