Kent State’s volleyball team (2-1) started off their season strong this weekend at the Charlotte Invitational in North Carolina.

On Friday, the Flashes won in straight sets over Eastern Kentucky before dropping a match 1-3 against Charlotte on their home court. Saturday morning, the Flashes took down Gardner-Webb in straight sets.

Head coach Don Gromala felt as if his team’s serving, placement and pace helped them find success in the first tournament of the season as they were able to put team’s in an uncomfortable position.

“I think our setters made good decisions,” Gromala said. “Our hitters did as well.” 

Kent’s aggressive defense was on display in the Flashes victory versus Eastern Kentucky. Sophomore Erin Garnder led the way with 16 of the team’s 46 digs. As a team, the Flashes had seven blocks. 

Kent State was victorious over Eastern Kentucky in straight sets, winning the first set 25-23, the second set 25-19 and the third set 25-17.

Freshman Savannah Matthews had 19 kills in the loss to Charlotte. Redshirt sophomore Alex Haffner led the team with 49 assists throughout the match. 

Despite the losing effort, Kent battled hard throughout each set versus Charlotte. The Flashes lost the first set 26-24, won the second set 25-23, lost the third set 26-24 and lost the fourth set 25-20. The Flashes lost the three sets by an average of just three points.

Gromala said his servers executed better in Saturday’s match against Gardner-Webb than they did on Friday in the loss to Charlotte. The Flashes servers were dominant, totaling four aces in the match. Gardner-Webb didn’t record a single ace.

Redshirt freshman Jacqlyn Caspers led the way for the Flashes with a team high 10 kills and five blocks in the win. Haffner led the team with 22 assists and Gardner led the defense with 23 digs.

Kent handled the winless Gardner-Webb by winning the first set 25-11, the second set 25-11 and the third set 25-17.

“I was really happy with the offensive output overall,” Gromala said after the win. “We knew we had that advantage coming in, but we executed better today than we did yesterday.”

On Friday, the Flashes volleyball team will play in their home debut against Valparaiso University (2-1) at 7:00 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.

“We have a big home weekend next weekend with some tough competition coming in,” Gromala said. “We’re going to work on a handful of things and some more different lineups but we’re really happy with how we played and competed with three very different types of teams.”

Nick Pedone is a sports reporter. Contact him at npedone1@kent.edu.

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