Kent State Volleyball Corrals Bulls In Another Five-Set Win
Larsen and Aderemi-Ibitola lead the charge as Golden Flashes improve to 6-2 in five setters in 2011.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Kent State volleyball team picked up its first Mid-American Conference victory of the 2011 season with another thrilling five-set win, taking down East Division rival Buffalo, 3-2 (22-25, 26-24, 28-26, 23-25, 15-12) Friday (Oct. 7) at Alumni Arena.
The first MAC triumph of the season put an end to a six-match losing streak for the Golden Flashes (8-12, 1-4 MAC), who upped their record to 6-2 in matches that go the distance in 2011. The victory also ran Kent State's streak to four straight triumphs over the Bulls (9-10, 2-3 MAC) and improved its all-time mark against Buffalo to 19-7.
Senior Maigan Larsen (Lancaster, Wis.) led the way, reaching double figures for the 16th time this season and fifth straight match after compiling a team-high 15 kills. She also totaled 11 digs to achieve her seventh double-double of the season and added five blocks (two solo, three assisted) to match her career high. Freshman Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola (Ellicott City, Md.) recorded a career-high 13 kills and six blocks (one solo, five assisted), marking the third time this season she has hit double digits in kills. Junior Kathy Krupa (Burbank, Ill.) added nine kills and eight blocks (one solo, seven assisted), tallying five or more blocks for the ninth time this season. Freshman Lauren Engleman (Cincinnati, Ohio) contributed a career-high nine kills and six blocks (two solo, four assisted). Sophomore Aleksandra Nowak (Damnica, Poland) guided the passing game with a team-high 48 set assists. Freshman Bridget Grdina (Mentor, Ohio) led the defensive effort with 17 digs while freshman Jenny Buczek (Orland Park, Ill.) added 10.
After losing the first set, Kent State bounced back with a crucial win in the second to even things up. Four kills by Engleman, three kills and a solo block by Aderemi-Ibitola and double blocks from Engleman and Aderemi-Ibitola and Nowak and Krupa held the Flashes traded punches with the Bulls throughout the set. With score locked at 24-all, Kent State forced an attack error by Buffalo and then evened match thanks to another kill by Aderemi-Ibitola.
It took another extra effort to win the third set and take a 2-1 match lead. Kent State took an eight-point lead at 22-14 courtesy of multiple kills by Aderemi-Ibitola, Larsen and Engleman. The Bulls weren't about to quit though, going on a 12-3 run to take 26-25 advantage and put the Flashes on the ropes. Kent State responded by forcing two Buffalo errors and finishing the set victory with a service ace by Larsen.
Buffalo ensured the match went the distance by pulling out a two-point victory in the fourth set. Kent State showed its comfort level in five setters, though, by breaking a nine-all tie with a 6-3 run highlighted by double blocks by Krupa and Buczek and Krupa and Aderemi-Ibitola and four kills by Aderemi-Ibitola to win the match.
Kent State wraps up its three-match road trip by making make the short drive to the Rubber City Saturday (Oct. 8) to square off with Akron in another MAC East battle. The match is slated for 5 p.m. The match against the Zips is the first event of the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge, which further expands a rivalry dating back more than a half-century between the two schools. The PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge is based on a time-honored competition for the historic wooden Wagon Wheel Trophy awarded originally in 1945 to the winner of the annual Akron-Kent State football game. For the 2011-12 academic year, the PNC-sponsored rivalry will broaden the competition to include 15 NCAA varsity sports, with victories in each sport adding one point to the challenge standings. In keeping with tradition, the annual winner of the football contest will gain possession of the historic wooden Wagon Wheel trophy, while the school that accumulates the most total points in all varsity matchups for that academic year will receive an overall series trophy.