Volleyball prepares for tournament end

Amanda Vasil

Anja Knabe-Paulsen spikes in an attempt to score a point against Dartmouth last Friday in the M.A.C. Center.

Credit: Jason Hall

After a series of tough losses at the Kent State Invitational last Saturday and Sunday, the Kent State volleyball team will complete its tournament run today and tomorrow at the Lady Trooper Invitational in Western Kentucky.

The Flashes (4-6) will face Mercer University (1-8) today at 5 p.m., before concluding against UT-Chattanooga (5-3) Saturday at 1 p.m. and Western Kentucky (9-1) Saturday at 7 p.m.

Coming off last weekend’s weak play and lack of team coordination, senior setter Anne Butts said she feels the team has been able to re-group and regain focus on to team cohesion and performance.

“I feel like we’ve kind of individually on our own figured out where we are in relationship to where we individually want to play and where we see the team going,” she said. “I think we needed individual time and individual focus to be able to work together during practices. We re-grouped in the sense that we found out we actually do need each other, and we need to look for more support.”

Butts recorded her third double-double of the season during last weekend’s match against Syracuse with 15 assists and 12 digs. She also leads the team in overall assists with 216 this season.

The Flashes plan to incorporate two new line-ups this weekend that they’ve been working on during practices. Senior outside hitter Danielle Holt said she’s excited to try something new.

“I think that the different line-ups will definitely give us an opportunity to beat teams or just to show them something different,” she said.

Holt became one of four Kent State volleyball players in team history to compile 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her college career. She now holds 1,552 kills and 1,010 digs. She also became the second player in Kent State history to reach 1,500 kills in a career.

The Flashes have also been working on blocking coordination and defensive plays, said Kent State coach Mora Kanim. She said she hopes to use this weekend as a gauge on what the team needs to work on for the Mid-American Conference season.

After already competing against Western Kentucky in a previous match this season, Kanim said the team should be able to make more adjustments to their play than usual, as seeing the same team twice in pre-season play is very unusual.

“I’m excited we have another opportunity to get better before we start the regular season, and I’m excited because the competition is going to be good,” she said. “The competition is going be a lot like what we’ll see in our conference, and we need to continue to get better at working together.”

Kanim said she expects Butts and Holt to take charge this weekend and do whatever is necessary to see the team succeed.

“If that means they need to give our team continuous support, they’ll do that,” she said. “If they need to get on two people, they’ll do that. If they need to jump on their heads and do cartwheels, they’ll do that. Competitors do whatever their team needs them to do.”

With the team’s energy topping out at a season high this week, Kanim said she feels confident in their ability to play well and collaborate with one another.

“They came in this week with a lot of energy and lot of enthusiasm, and I think that speaks to their confidence level that we’re going to be fine and very successful,” she said. “There’s no moping, no heads down. Their heads are up, and we feel confident in ourselves.”

As long as the team shies away from self-doubt and second guesses, Butts said she feels the team will be able to improve their game, as well as their support for each other.

“I think this weekend is going to be a good tune-up for the MAC,” Butts said. “If we can get all of our kinks worked out this weekend, then we’re definitely going to be a team to be dealt with this season.”

Contact volleyball reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].