Versatile volleyball switches up its lineup in second conference weekend

Isabella Schreck, Sports Editor

Setter Kiersten Kraus, defensive specialist Fabiana Mucciola and middle blocker Sadie Wright saw the most playing time of their seasons so far Friday and Saturday.

“We had situations where we started to run out of subs, and I trust whoever’s in to do well,” coach Haley Eckerman said. “It makes it hard to figure out what we’re doing as far as other teams are scouting us.”

Kent State split its weekend against Miami, losing 3-2 in Friday’s game and winning 3-1 Saturday. The Flashes are now 1-3 in the conference – fourth in the MAC East – and 10-5 overall.

Kraus, a sophomore, totaled 18 assists during her six sets played over the weekend. In her team’s losses to Bowling Green Sept. 23 and 24, she had 24 assists.

“It’s just her getting confident,” Eckerman said. “That’s what the last two weeks of conference have been.”

In Saturday’s game, sophomore Mucciola had 11 digs and freshman Wright had four blocks. They both played in all four sets.

Eckerman said the two players have been “continuously great in practice.”

“They both don’t have lulls,” she said. “They’re very consistent, and it’s great. With Fabi coming in, she’s one we can put anywhere on the court. She’s a little timid and shy, but she did a really good job Friday and Saturday of going in and helping take over the back row. I was really proud of how she came out and battled.”

Eckerman had similar praise for Wright, who had 24 hitting attempts Saturday – the most of her collegiate career so far.

“She’s going to do what she needs to do,” Eckerman said. “She’s not going to be too high. She’s going to keep the ball in if it’s not a great set, and she’s going to manage the ball well and work to get those hard to get touches.”

The RedHawks won Friday’s first set 27-25. Kent State has played eight sets that went over 25 points this season.

Kent State took the lead at 25-24, but then Miami’s senior outside hitter Allyson Severance recorded three consecutive kills to win the set.

The Flashes only scored nine points in the second set. Miami scored 11 of the last 12 points of the match.

“We were just thinking about the game before, the step before,” Eckerman said. “We were still dwelling on how we should have won that [first] set. We came out and wanted to change every single thing about what we just did. We let them control the game and get chaotic and make errors.”

Freshman Mackenzie McGuire, who recorded 26 kills on the weekend, accounted for four of those points. Wright scored one.

Kent State won the third set 25-18 after taking an early lead and then won the fourth 25-22.

The team only recorded four kills in its fifth set. Miami won 15-8.

The Flashes started Saturday’s game with a 25-13 first-set loss. They came back to win 25-22 in the second set and 25-21 in the third.

“One of the biggest things we had talked about is carrying the momentums and understanding, after the first set, ‘yeah, we didn’t win it, but how do we get that momentum back and how do we keep it?’” Eckerman said. “So, how do we go on runs and how do we keep the ball on out side and continue to push forward while staying stable and keeping our energy the same?”

Kent State maintained the lead the entire fourth set to secure a 25-12 win – the team’s largest margin of victory since Aug. 26 against UAlbany.

In her second-ever collegiate game, freshman Emma Schroeder earned five kills. Freshman Mia Soerensen led the team with 11.

The Flashes play at Central Michigan at 5 p.m. Friday and at Eastern Michigan 6 p.m. Saturday.

“Every team’s figuring out who they are,” Eckerman said. “There’s different things going on with every team. We scouted one way, and they came out a whole different way. It’s being able to not only be versatile on our side of the court but going in being able to make those adjustments quicker and then continuing to learn from our games.”

Isabella Schreck is sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]