‘It’s been a lot of fight’: Volleyball ends losing streak and splits M.A.C.C weekend


Asha Blake

Freshman outside hitter Mackenzie McGuire (left) and fifth-year middle blocker Lana Strejcek block an attack from Western Michigan Oct. 29.

Isabella Schreck, Sports Editor

In Friday’s game against Northern Illinois, the Kent State volleyball team made 22 errors – its lowest total of the season.

Against Buffalo Oct. 20, the team made 33 errors, and 22 came from attack errors alone.

“It’s making sure everyone is doing their jobs,” graduate student middle blocker Danie Tyson said. “The biggest thing was just focusing on what we can do and what we can control. Then everything else will fall into place.”

The team beat Northern Illinois 3-0 Friday then lost to Western Michigan 3-1 Saturday in the M.A.C. Center.

The Flashes are 13-11 on the season and fourth in the Mid-American Conference East at 4-9. Ohio and Bowling Green are first at 10-3 – KSU has lost to both teams.

Friday’s victory broke Kent State’s four-game losing streak.

Senior outside hitter Taylor Heberle cheers her team on Oct. 29. Heberle kept the positivity going as she encouraged the players. (Asha Blake )

The Flashes had lost one game against Akron and first-place Ohio and two to Buffalo.

Coach Haley Eckerman said her team’s focus this week in practice was “giving energy and effort 24/7.”

“I talked to them about not being perfect, but just being good,” she said. “We had moments in Friday’s game where we showed how good we can be.”

Both the first and second set went back and forth until 15-15.

At 17-17 in the first set, the Flashes scored eight of the final nine points to win the match 25-18. KSU had not had more than a one-point lead before then.

After kills from Tyson, fifth-year middle blocker Lana Strejcek and freshman right side Mia Soerensen, Kent State pulled ahead 10-9. The team kept the lead the rest of the match and earned six consecutive points to win 25-17.

“When we’re locked in, we’re unstoppable,” Eckerman said. “It’s hard to beat us because we have options. It makes it tough for a team to defend against us.”

The Flashes won the third set 25-20 after scoring ten of the set’s final 13 points.

Tyson led Kent State with 10 kills. Five KSU players recorded six kills or more.

“We were really focused on setter-middle connection and doing the best we can,” Tyson said. “When our middles are on fire, it helps us a lot.”

Kent State managed at least a .200 hitting percentage in each set Saturday. But the team totaled 30 errors.

Western Michigan made 23.

The Broncos were beating the Flashes 21-9 in the first set. Kent State got the ball back after a WMU service error, and the team scored six of the next eight points to catch up to 23-15.

Western Michigan won the set 25-15.

After tying the second set 3-3, the Flashes stayed ahead until 13-13. After a four-point KSU run for a 22-18 lead, the match went back and forth until Kent State won 27-25.

WMU controlled the third set and won 25-13.

“We get in moments of doing great, and then we almost are satisfied after we get a win,” Eckerman said. “We have to continue to fight over and over again. Just because we won on set, it’s not over right away.”

Kent State lost the fourth 25-19. Senior opposite hitter Morgan Copley had five kills that set – the most from any KSU player in the set. She led the Flashes with 14 kills Saturday.

Senior opposite Hitter Morgan Copley spikes the ball in an attempt to win a point for her team. (Asha Blake)

The Flashes play at Ball State at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The Cardinals are first in the MAC West at 11-2. The team is on an eleven-game winning streak.

Kent State plays a weekend against Toledo and a single game with Ohio to close out the regular season after Ball State. Six teams qualify for the MAC tournament quarterfinals Nov. 21.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs – it’s been a lot of fight,” Tyson said. “We’re really working things out still, and that’s what every team does no matter what part of the season you’re in. Our thing is just to finish strong and try to get a spot in the MAC tournament.”

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