Volleyball prepares for conference games after loss to Duquesne

Isabella Schreck Reporter

The Kent State volleyball team will enter the Mid-American Conference play next weekend with “a lot of work to do,” coach Don Gromala said.  

The Flashes lost in five sets to Duquesne (5-6) Saturday in the final game of the Golden Flashes Invitational. KSU is now 5-7, the eighth-best record in the MAC and third-best in the MAC East. 

The Flashes were predicted to finish second in the East. Bowling Green, last season’s champion, was picked first but is 3-6 so far this season. 

Ball State plays at KSU at 6 p.m. Friday and at 4 p.m. Saturday, and has the league’s best record at 10-2. Toledo is 9-3 and Northern Illinois 6-4. Buffalo has the East’s best mark at 7-5.

“Duquesne came out with a pretty good game plan offensively,” Gromala said. “We just couldn’t get into a rhythm with what they were doing.”

The Flashes have played three five-set games this season. This was their first loss, losing three sets by four points or less.

KSU lost the first set 25-23, leading 23-20 before Duquesne took over. Kent State came back and won the second 25-21.

The Flashes won the third match 25-15 and Duquesne the fourth 25-21.

“After the third set, serving runs were the difference, and we needed to play better within the game,” Gromala said. “There were some longer points where we were undisciplined and where we needed to be better.”

KSU led 8-4 in the fifth set, but Duquesne rallied to win 16-14.

“We came out with a good lead, but we gave away points that you just can’t do in a fifth set,” Gromala said. “We had some aces, but we didn’t put enough pressure on their attackers, and they were hard to defend.”

The Flashes had beaten Youngstown State in four sets on Thursday. Duquesne lost to the Penguins Friday in four sets. 

“Duquesne’s middles did a great job of seeing our block and hitting around it better than we thought they would from their performance last night,” Gromala said. “We were a different team from our game Thursday to today.” 

The Flashes’ hitting percentage was .190, compared to .373 against Youngstown.  

Senior opposite hitter Melissa Kolurbasi played only the third and fourth set but led the team in hitting percentage at .357 and in kills with 19. Her career high in kills is 20 against Bowling Green last February. 

“Set-by-set, we realized that there were some lineups we needed to mix up,” Gromala said. “Melissa was playing pretty well, so we wanted to get her started in the front row.”

Kolurbasi credited her performance to her team and their energy on the court even as pressure rose. 

“I had confidence in myself and my teammates,” Kolurbasi said. “Our mentality is to be the most competitive and to have the strength to go after every ball and not give up easily. I think that’s why we have so many long games.” 

Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]