Kent State volleyball beats Akron, secures MAC tournament bid


Defensive specialist Kaeleigh Stang, 18, serves the ball into play during the women’s volleyball game on Nov. 15, 2019. The Golden Flashes won 3-0 against University of Akron.

Kent State’s volleyball team hosted the Zips of Akron University on Friday evening and secured their bid to appear in the MAC Volleyball Championship this week.

It was a quick three-set affair in which the Flashes posted a hitting percentage of .259. Kent State won the first set 25-16 before winning the second set 25-21. Akron fought back in the third set, but Kent State finished the sweep 26-24.

Kent State’s defense was on full display Friday evening, tallying 56 total digs opposed to Akron’s 38. Sophomore Erin Gardner had 24 of Kent’s digs in the victory.

Sophomore Alex Haffner led the way for the Flashes with 32 assists. Freshman Morgan Copley had 13 of Kent’s 44 kills. Senior Ashley Makruski had 11 kills. 

“We came out and executed,” coach Don Gromala said of the victory. “That was probably some of the best volleyball we played all year.”

It was a quick turnaround for the Flashes, who hosted the University of Buffalo on Saturday night.

It was another close five-set match that fell through Kent State’s grip at the end, as they lost 2-3. The Flashes posted a hitting percentage of .290 in the effort.

Buffalo took the first set 25-22. The Flashes rallied in the second set and won 30-28. Throughout the first two sets, Haffner already had 27 assists. Kent State turned around and took set No. 3 25-22. However, Buffalo responded and won the fourth set 25-23 and the fifth set 15-11.

Freshman Savannah Matthews had 15 kills in the losing effort. Haffner finished the night with 55 assists. Senior Myla King finished her regular season collegiate career with six blocks. Junior Kaeleigh Stang had 17 digs.

Despite the loss, Kent State earned a spot in the MAC volleyball tournament in Bowling Green this weekend.

On Thursday, the No. 8 seeded Kent State Flashes will battle the No. 5 seeded Bobcats of Ohio University at 4:30 p.m in the first round of the tournament. The winner will advance to face Ball State University.

When Kent played Ohio University last weekend in Athens, the Bobcats swept the Flashes 3-0. 

“I’m really proud of how the team fought to earn that spot in the MAC tourney next week,” Gromala said. “Anybody that gets on a roll can do something special. We’re definitely one of those teams.”

Contact Nicholas Pedone at [email protected]