And Buffalo makes it four: Volleyball extends conference losing streak

Isabella Schreck, Sports Editor

In her volleyball team’s losing battle against Buffalo, coach Haley Eckerman looked to her bench.

She found senior opposite hitter Morgan Copley, who would go on to put up 8.5 points Friday – the second-most from any KSU player that night.

“Morgan came in and gave us a great job of staying calm and being that go-to player for us,” Eckerman said. “She’s been very versatile. She’s trying to figure out how she can be good on the court and how she can help the team better.”

The Kent State volleyball team lost at Buffalo in three sets Thursday and Friday. The Flashes had played five games in eight days by Friday.

Copley totaled at least five kills each game. She tied for the most aces from her team Thursday with one and had the second-most kills Friday, earning eight. She started Friday.

“She’s always going to be doing her job,” Kent State’s first-year coach said. “It’s really starting to show now, and she’s getting to showcase it.”

The team is on a four-game losing streak. KSU is 12-10 on the season and fourth in the Mid-American Conference East at 3-8.

Buffalo is 13-10 overall and third in the East at 5-6. Last week, the Bulls and Flashes were tied for third.

Bowling Green, which beat KSU 3-0 in two games in the beginning of MAC play, is first at 8-2 and 13-8 overall. The Falcons are the only other team to beat Kent State in two consecutive games.

In non-conference play, the Flashes were 10-2 – their best start since 2014.

“We’ve got to figure out what worked in the non conference because we’re not a terrible team, we just need to find ways to win,” Eckerman said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get back to that winning mentality. We’ve had moments of it, of fighting and trusting each other, but then we have moments where everybody goes off on their own island.”

Thursday, the Flashes gave the Bulls 33 of their 56 points through errors.

Kent State lost the first set 25-21 and did not lead at any point in the match.

Buffalo held Kent State to only 26 hitting attempts and six kills in the second set. The Bulls won the match 25-12.

“Six of our 12 points that we earned were their errors,” Eckerman said. “And that’s hard to beat, whether they’re top of the conference or bottom. You’re not going to win giving up that many errors.”

At 16-15, the Flashes had their first lead of the night. Then, Buffalo went on a five-point run. Two of those points came from KSU attack errors.

The Bulls won the set 25-21.

With errors, Kent State gave up 30 of Buffalo’s 61 points Friday.

The Bulls won the first set 25-16 – they had a .333 hitting percentage to KSU’s .075.

The second set went back and forth until the Flashes’ got ahead to 16-15 with a kill from Copley. Kent State stayed ahead, but the Bulls then scored the eight of the last ten points to win the match 26-24.

“In the past, they didn’t really know how to win a lot – we won 12 games last year – so it’s almost as if we mentally don’t know how to handle winning,” Eckerman said. “It’s like, ‘We’re not supposed to be winning. What do we need to change?’ That’s what we’re trying to balance.”

Buffalo started the third set with a 5-0 lead and won the match 25-13. The Flashes totaled only six kills out of 23 hitting attempts.

This was the second-lowest scoring game from KSU this season.

“We need to be smarter, and we need to be good,” Eckerman said. “It’s trying to get that understanding for them.”

Graduate student libero Erin Gardner totaled the most kills on the weekend with 26. After her 11 digs Saturday, she became the third defender to earn 2,000 digs.

“She’s scrappy,” her coach said. “She’s going to lay her body out no matter what it is, and that’s huge. She deserves the milestone because she does work hard. When she’s just her normal, good self, she’s going to get those milestones.”

The Flashes play Northern Illinois at 6 p.m. Friday and Western Michigan at 4 p.m. Saturday in the M.A.C. Center. NIU is third in the MAC West at 6-4, WMU is sixth at 5-5.

“The biggest thing that our team is learning throughout this process is taking the good and trying to figure out how we can capitalize on that,” Eckerman said. “It’s learning how to be the best teammate they can be, being selfless and understanding that doing their job is going to help this team win. If everybody can look each other in the eyes and know that we can have that belief, that’s going to be key for us.”

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