Volleyball beats Western Michigan in five-set thriller

On Friday night in Illinois, Kent State volleyball lost a four-set match to the Northern Illinois University Huskies.

Not even 24 hours later, the Flashes travelled to Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday evening for a matchup against Western Michigan.

In the back-and-forth match in which the Flashes posted a hitting percentage of .291, Western Michigan came out and won the first set 25-23. Kent rallied, taking the second set 26-24 before Western Michigan won the third set 25-22. The Flashes rallied twice more, winning the fourth set 25-20 and the fifth set 15-9.

Kent State head coach Don Gromala was satisfied with how his team fought back, especially after a tough loss on Friday night.

At the end of the fifth set, freshman Savannah Matthews put away her team-leading 21st kill of the match to give the Flashes the victory. Her 21 kills are the most of anyone on the team since 2016, but Gromala was especially impressed with her willingness to get her teammates in rhythm as well.

“I think she posted one of her better matches,” Gromala said of his freshman’s performance. “That was a big addition that you’re not going to see in the statline is how well she passed.”

Redshirt sophomore Alex Haffner led the way with 58 assists. 

Sophomore Erin Garnder led Kent’s defense with 25 kills in the victory. Gardner also had five of Kent’s eight aces in the match. Western Michigan only had three aces all night.

Three of Kent’s players had career days versus Eastern Michigan. Matthews set her career-high with those 21 kills. Senior Ashley Maruski set her career-best with 19 kills. Freshman Gracey Jarecke set her career-high with 11 digs in the match. 

“It was a heck of a match,” Gromala said. “Probably one of the most exciting ones I think I’ve ever been apart of.”

With the win, the Flashes improved their record to 11-11 on the season. They are now 4-6 in conference play.

The road trip continues for the Golden Flashes who will play Bowling Green State University on Friday and Miami University on Saturday. 

Contact Nicholas Pedone at [email protected].