Flashes win two at tourney, prepare for conference play

Amanda Vasil

Anja Knabe Paulsen and Sarah Wilber attempt to block the ball at a home game against Dartmouth Sept. 9 at the M.A.C. Center.

Credit: Jason Hall

The Kent State volleyball team came alive this weekend, tallying two more wins to its record and showing strong hitting and defensive energy at the Lady Trooper Invitational.

The Flashes (4-7) came out strong Friday night against Mercer University (1-9) with a 3-0 sweep and scores of 30-26, 30-22 and 30-24. Junior Sarah Wilber and senior Danielle Holt led the team in kills with 15 and 13, respectively. Wilber also recorded a match-best .480 hitting, while sophomore Anne Zakelj contributed with 9 kills on .467 hitting.

Senior setter Anne Butts added 31 assists, while setting partner sophomore Anja Knabe-Paulsen led with explosive serving, compiling a career-best four aces.

The team continued to play strong into its second match against UT-Chattanooga (5-5) Saturday afternoon. Strong hitting and quick defensive plays contributed to the Flashes’ second tournament game sweep with scores of 30-23, 30-28 and 30-28.

With a season-best game hitting of .349 and four players with double-figure kills, the team’s offense was on fire. Holt grabbed another double-double with 22 kills and 14 digs, while Wilber finished the match with 14 kills on .444 hitting. Zakelj and sophomore Ashley Feutz rounded out the hitting power with 12 and 10 kills respectively.

After working hard on defensive plays and blocking all week, the Flashes pulled out hard blocks from Zakelj and Feutz with four and three respectively. Sophomore Laura Jensen tallied a match-best 25 digs, while Knabe-Paulsen nabbed a double-double with 19 assists and 15 digs.

Unfortunately, the momentum of the first two games was not enough to keep the Flashes on a winning streak.

A .057 hitting average and drop in defensive action contributed to the team’s 3-0 loss to tournament host Western Kentucky (12-1) with scores of 30-18, 30-17 and 30-15.

Wilber led the team in hitting with 12 kills, while Holt and Feutz added seven kills a piece. Butts led with assists, recording 16.

After showing hard hitting and strong defensive play, Jensen and Wilber were chosen for the All-Tournament Team . Jensen averaged 4.78 digs per game, compiling 43 total digs for the weekend. Wilber averaged 4.44 kills per game with .375 hitting and 40 total kills for the weekend.

The Flashes return home this weekend as they open up the Mid-American Conference season against Buffalo at 7 p.m. Friday at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact volleyball reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].