Flashes exchange vows to come together

Amanda Vasil

Jellybeans, wedding bands connect volleyball team

Katie Mang and team captains, Danielle Holt and Anne Butts, wear their “wedding bands” around their left ring finger to signify unity among team members.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Not many teams marry each other in an attempt to play better volleyball.

But then again, not every team loves jellybeans the way the Kent State volleyball team does.

“I’m not really sure how it happened,” senior outside hitter Danielle Holt said. “I just came back into the locker room and I was married.”

It all started when assistant coach Cass Dixon entered the locker room during the Flashes’ match against Ohio. When she offered the team jellybeans, wedding bells began to chime.

“(Katie) Mang just kept yelling about how she loved her Tutti-Fruitti jellybeans,” sophomore libero Laura Jensen said. “And then she decided to marry them.”

Jensen served as the priest in the candy-filled wedding as Tutti, the groom, married his bride.

Soon after the ceremony, the players began joking how they should all get married as well. All the players decided they would be wives, Jensen said.

The team “honeymooned” during its match against Central Michigan the following weekend and dined at Bennigan’s.

Now before each match, the players take athletic tape and wrap it around their left ring fingers to make wedding bands signifying their connection to each other.

Kent State (7-14, 3-7 Mid-American Conference) plans to bring its connections to the court this weekend as they face Miami (14-7, 7-3 MAC) at 7 p.m. today and Bowling Green (14-9, 6-4 MAC) at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

The Flashes have worked hard all year on team cohesion and blending on the court. Building a strong team can be difficult year to year with new personalities and playing patterns, Holt said.

“People have come here from different places with different coaches and different teammates,” she said. “We’re just trying to adjust to everyone’s playing habits. It’s always easier to work with returners because you don’t have to learn them.”

It’s beginning to become more important to do this as the team enters the second half of its season. Many players are beginning to look toward the MAC tournament, scheduled to begin on Nov. 18, Jensen said.

“There’s almost a sense of urgency,” she said. “We’re nearing the end of the season, so we want to have momentum going into the MAC tournament.”

To gain this momentum, the team has been focusing on hitting hard and mixing its shots this week. To help put it all together, they’ve played in numerous scrimmages and attempted to set up possible game scenarios, Jensen said.

As Kent State coach Mora Kanim and many players have said over and over again, the team doesn’t typically scout its opponents before matches. Instead, they prefer to focus on their own performances and placement on the court, Jensen said.

Even still, the Flashes don’t want any surprises.

“We’ll key on certain players,” Jensen said. “We don’t ever try to shut a player down because we know one player can’t hold a team up. We look at her tendencies and adjust our defense and blocking to try to slow her down.”

While this weekend is important for the Flashes, don’t be surprised if you hear a few chants of “I do!” echoing throughout the gymnasium when they huddle.

Contact volleyball reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].