Senior night overshadowed by loss

Amanda Vasil

Sophomore middle blocker Anne Zakelj goes up for a hit against Eastern Michigan Saturday night. It was also the last home game for seniors Anne Butts, Danielle Holt, and Katie Mang. The Flashes host Cleveland State in a non-conference game tonight at 7 p.

Credit: Ben Breier

It wasn’t all there for the Kent State volleyball team Saturday night.

Consistency, that is.

“The first two-thirds of game one and all of game three, we played the way we’ve been looking to play with consistency and smooth execution,” Kent State coach Mora Kanim said. “As for the rest of the match, we’ve been struggling to get rid of those lapses of executing well.”

At Saturday night’s match, which honored three graduating seniors, the Flashes fell to Mid-American Conference West Division leader Eastern Michigan (19-6, 12-2 MAC) 3-0 with scores of 30-25, 30-15, 30-28.

In game one, the Flashes (8-17, 4-10 MAC) saw 14 tied scores and four lead changes. With various service and attack errors and a five-point lead from Eastern, the Flashes couldn’t scramble together to take the game.

The Eagles dominated the second game with a .630 team hitting average to Kent State’s .062. After an early 11-3 lead, Eastern continued on to take the set.

The third game almost mirrored the first, as the teams traded the lead six times. With the score at 29-27, the Eagles caught a sideout from the Flashes, ending the match.

Many times during the match, the two teams would rally back and forth for minutes at a time. Because Eastern is known to be a team that doesn’t make many mistakes, the Flashes had to be patient, redshirt freshman Vaiva Laniauskas said.

“We had already expected long rallies coming into (Saturday),” she said. “In long rallies, you have to be very patient because the ball comes back to you in strange ways. Sometimes we hurried, but sometimes it’s really just about luck.”

Leading the Flashes were seniors Danielle Holt, Katie Mang and Anne Butts. Holt grabbed her 13th double-double of the season with 21 kills and 10 digs on a .364 hitting average. Junior Sarah Wilber and redshirt freshman Ashley Feutz contributed offensively with eight kills apiece.

Defensive specialists Mang and Laura Jensen posted 11 and 10 digs respectively, while Butts registered a team-high 28 assists.

As the seniors played in their second-to-last home match, the team began to realize the loss it will endure next season, Laniauskas said.

“It’s finally hitting us that the seniors are going to be gone next year,” she said. “We’re losing three unbelievable players, as well as teammates and friends. They did especially well (Saturday) and represented the team well. The rest of us need to step it up and follow their lead.”

Kent State will play its final home match of the season against Cleveland State at 7 p.m. Monday at the M.A.C. Center. Although Cleveland State is a non-conference team, the Flashes are still going to go in and play their best, Laniauskas said.

“There’s less pressure because they aren’t a MAC team,” she said, “so we don’t have to beat them, but we want to beat them.”

Contact volleyball reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].