The Kent State volleyball team left the Kansas Invitational over the weekend with one win and two losses against its best competition of the season so far.

“The teams we played this weekend are definitely in the top 100,” coach Don Gromala said. “We learned that we can compete with some of the strongest teams in the country.”

The Flashes beat Delaware (5-4) and lost to Wichita State (5-1) and Kansas (5-3).

Wichita State was undefeated going into the weekend, and Kansas swept its three games in the tournament.

“There were moments where we were playing really well, but it also seemed like we had a lot of mental errors which prohibited our ability from sweeping the weekend,” junior outside hitter Savannah Matthews said. “We were facing some bigger opponents size wise, and I think we underestimated that.” 

Against Delaware, KSU took the first two sets 25-22 and 25-21. After Delaware won the next two sets, the Flashes came back from a 3-1 deficit in the fifth set for a commanding 15-9 win.

“We really liked the tone we set when competing against Delaware,” Gromala said. “We executed very well offensively and responded really well in the fifth set with our service pressure as well.”

The next day, KSU played the Big 12’s Kansas close in 25-21 and 26-24 sets, then lost the third 25-17. 

The Flashes lost to Wichita State on Friday in four sets, winning only the third 25-23.

KSU’s hitting percentages were up from the previous week's tournament. KSU hit .274 against Delaware. 

“Last week we weren’t ourselves with our offensive, so that was a big focus in practice for this weekend's playing,” Gromala said. “We were very in tune to what we needed to do, and our first contact in serve receive got more consistent so, that helped our hitters.”

This week’s tournament was the Flashes’ second in a row. Last week, the team lost all three games, winning only one set. 

“These past two weekends have been tough road trips, which is a challenge in itself, but these long games are what we train for,” Gromala said. 

The Flashes will be back at home this weekend to host the Golden Flashes Invitational. They play Youngstown (2-7) on Thursday and Duquesne (4-5) on Saturday. 

“We have a lot of parents and friends coming out for the games next week,” Matthews said. “While our goal of course is to win, we also want to showcase what our team is really about to the people coming out to see us.”

Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at ischreck@kent.edu

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