Flashes take on No. 1 in MAC

Amanda Vasil

Confidence carries optimistic team against top-ranked Ohio University

Sophomore middle hitter Anne Zakelj hits the ball while Miami’s middle hitters Emily Schroeder and Kate Norris attempt to block it at Friday’s home game at the M.A.C. Center. Kent lost the match and all three games, 30-8, 30-25, 30-22. The Flashes (8

Credit: Steve Schirra

A little confidence goes a long way.

And a little is all the Kent State volleyball team needs as it prepares to face the No. 1 team in the Mid-American Conference tomorrow night.

“We truly have nothing to lose at this point,” senior setter Anne Butts said. “I think we’re at a point where we feel very confident, and we’re at a level where we know we can play well.”

Coming off a 3-1 victory over Bowling Green Saturday, the Flashes (8-15, 4-8 MAC) have high energy going into the rematch against Ohio (22-2, 12-0 MAC) at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the M.A.C. Center.

Ohio defeated Miami Saturday 3-2, marking its first five-game match of the season.

“We have a really good chance of upsetting Ohio,” Butts said. “We’re a team that many teams are scared of because they never know what Kent State is going to put out on the court.”

Part of what the Flashes are working on this week to achieve spontaneity is hitting an array of shots that will be the most effective against Ohio. The team has also been working on placing the ball on specific spots on the court and then practicing them in repetitions, Kent State coach Mora Kanim said.

There is a definite advantage to playing five home matches in a row because the team can get itself into a routine of playing on its home court, Butts said. Being home also provides a more comfortable and relaxing atmosphere where the players can rest and continue attending classes.

With all of these elements working together, Kanim said she’s looking for the Flashes to play hard against Ohio and continue its winning streak though the next few home matches.

“If we can execute well and stay patient and positive, we have as good of a chance as anyone to knock Ohio off,” Kanim said. “We’ll continue to perform well and carry the momentum from the Bowling Green match to the (MAC) tournament.”

Ultimately, the team is just going to continue doing what it’s been doing the whole season – concentrating on itself and taking one match at a time.

“The whole thing we’ve been working on is baby steps,” Butts said, “and we’re going to keep climbing up the mountain.”

Contact volleyball reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].