With the season just around the corner, there is one common goal amongst Kent State’s women’s volleyball team: winning the Mid-American Conference Championship.
The Flashes will return five upperclassmen, while welcoming four freshmen to the team. Kent State will open up its regular season on Aug. 30 at the Charlotte Invitational in North Carolina where the team will face Eastern Kentucky, Charlotte and Gardner-Webb.
The Flashes’ home opener is Sep. 6 against Valparaiso University at the M.A.C. Center.
Despite the youthfulness of the team, head coach Don Gromala has his Flashes geared up for a successful season.
“Right off the bat, the team did a great job of playing together,” Gromala said. “Even though the newcomers were learning the systems or techniques, I think they gravitated towards what we’re looking for pretty fast.”
Last season, the volleyball team finished with a 13-18 record and a 6-11 record in MAC competition. Their season came to an end against Eastern Michigan.
Gromala has been coaching the Flashes since 2012 and brings nearly 20 years of coaching experience to the table. Middle blocker Myla King will be returning for her senior season. Both Gromala and King believe the team could have something special in store for their 2019 campaign.
“Considering the fact that we have a slightly younger team, I would say the expectations are very high,” King said.
Casey Riedel will return to Gromala’s staff as an assistant coach. She has served on his staff as an assistant coach since 2017. Also joining Gromala’s staff this season is the former Penn State standout Abby Detering. A native of Mentor, Detering has a decorated collegiate career and has played professionally overseas.
Kent State gave a preview of what to expect this season by winning their exhibition match against Findlay on Tuesday in straight sets.
“I think we expected to have an outcome of a good win,” Gromala said after Tuesday’s match. “It was a good learning experience because we were pushed in some areas.”
Gromala said Findlay challenged the Flashes with first contact, but felt as if his team was more physical and more experienced in some positions.
Training camp for the Flashes wrapped up on Wednesday. As they prepare for their first regular season matches, King and the other upperclassmen continue to preach a winning culture to their younger teammates. Part of this culture-building included working out with the Marine Corps as well as Friday’s Blue versus Gold Scrimmage at the M.A.C.C.
“Be patient with yourself,” King tells her younger teammates as advice. “The progress is not going to happen over night.”
While the team knows that the success won’t happen instantly, they’re as confident as ever heading into their 2019 campaign.
“It’s plain and simple. We’re looking to create some more history and do things that haven’t happened before with our program,” Gromala said.
Nick Pedone is a sports reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.