Flashes Rally For Thrilling Season-Opening Win Over SIU Edwardsville
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- In 2010, the Kent State volleyball team was 1-6 in matches decided in five sets.
Nothing like a new year for a fresh start.
The Golden Flashes climbed out of a 2-0 hole to rattle off three straight set victories – capped off by a wild fifth set – to defeat SIU Edwardsville, 3-2 (23-25, 26-28, 25-18, 25-23, 22-20) in their opening match of the 2011 season at the SIU Edwardsville Invitational Friday (Aug. 26).
"I have a lot of confidence that the team is always going to fight," said fifth-year head coach Glen Conley of his team's come-from-behind effort. "We needed this. We fought our tails off against some pretty big odds. It was great to see them battle back from the 2-0 deficit and survive a tight fifth set. This will be an important win moving forward."
Kent State (1-0) dominated the box score, outhitting the host Cougars (0-1), .283-.161 and taking advantage of 46 errors by SIU Edwardsville.
The match featured career performances by senior Maigan Larsen (Lancaster, Wis.), junior Kathy Krupa (Burbank, Ill.) and sophomore Hannah Herc (Eden, N.Y.). Larsen led the charge with a career-high 27 kills to go along with 15 digs.
Krupa posted a career-best 17 kills. Sophomore Aleksandra Nowak (Damnica, Poland) finished the match with 50 set assists – one shy of her career best – and contributed 15 digs. Freshman Bridget Grdina (Mentor, Ohio) achieved a double double in her collegiate debut, recording 10 kills and 14 digs. Herc just missed out on a double double, tallying a career-high nine kills and 16 digs. Senior Brooke Zeigler (Parkman, Ohio) paced Kent State's defensive effort with a team-best 20 digs in her blue and gold debut.
After two close losses in the first two sets, the Flashes shrugged off the early adversity by answering with a convincing seven-point win in which they hit 72% in the third and a hard-fought triumph in the fourth.
That set the stage for a thrilling conclusion in the fifth set. Four kills by Larsen, and Krupa, service aces by Grdina and Nowak and several miscues by the Cougars helped the Flashes take a 12-10 advantage. The Cougars rallied to push Kent State to match point at 14-12, 15-14 and 16-15, but the Flashes weathered the storm by taking advantage of an SIU Edwardsville attack error and two kills by Larsen to square the score. Kent State traded points with SIU Edwardsville and could not take advantage of being at match point four times. The Flashes finally broke through for their first win of the season thanks to a service error by the Cougars and a kill by Larsen to seal the deal.
Kent State continues first-day competition at the SIU Edwardsville Invitational with a 5:30 p.m. battle with Wofford at the Vadalabene Center.