After throwing a bit of a scare into defending Mid-American Conference champion Bowling Green on Friday, the Kent State volleyball team (8-9, 2-2 MAC) brought Homecoming weekend to a successful close by sweeping Miami 25-21, 25-22, 28-26 Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.
"This was a good win for us," said second-year KSU head coach Don Gromala. "There aren't any easy matches in the MAC, so it's always nice to be able to win in three. Hopefully we carry this over to next week with a ranked Ohio team coming here on Thursday."
Golden Flashes senior setter Aleksandra Nowak showed off her versatility with four kills on only six attempts, eight digs and a match-high 29 assists. Freshman outside hitter Bianca Cifaldi led the offense with 13 kills, junior outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola had 10 kills, and senior libero Hannah Herc tallied a match-high 13 digs.
On Friday Kent State was one point away from taking a 2-0 lead over Bowling Green at the M.A.C. Center, but the Falcons recovered in time to claim game two and went on to capture the match 26-28, 26-24, 25-22, 25-19.
Junior Liz Reikow came up big on both sides of the net, leading the Flashes with 13 kills and five total blocks. Herc anchored the back line of defense with 26 digs, while Nowak recorded a match-high 45 assists and Cifaldi had 12 kills.
Senior Jessacca Gironda scored in the 11th minute to lift Kent State (7-5, 2-2 MAC) to a 1-0 victory over host Ball State (7-3-1, 2-1) on Friday afternoon, but the Flashes dropped a 1-0 decision at Miami (5-6-1, 2-1-1) on Sunday.
Jenna Hellstrom got the ball to Gironda, who then beat her opponent and put the ball into the left corner of the net past Ball State goalkeeper Layne Schramm, whose save percentage ranks fourth in the nation.
Stephanie Senn was busy in the net for the Flashes, picking up eight saves to earn the shutout.
Miami's Kayla Zakrzewski scored her first goal of the season in the sixth minute, and it stood up on Sunday.
Gironda was named MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week after contributing on all five of Kent State's goals in a 5-0 victory over Bowling Green on Sept. 29. The senior forward totaled a school-record eight points and recorded just the fifth hat trick in program history.
Gironda leads Kent State in scoring with 18 points on seven goals and four assists. Hellstrom ranks second with 11 points on three goals and a team-high five assists.
Kent State's men's and women's teams each finished eighth out of over 40 squads at the All-Ohio Championships in Cedarville. Akron captured the men's title, while Dayton took home the women's crown.
For the Flashes men, Andrew Goodwin topped the squad with a 13th place finish among 289 runners with a time of 25:36.81 on the 8k course. In the women's race, Paige Foster paced KSU with an impressive 12th place effort among 283 competitors in a time of 22:53.99 over the 6k course.
Kent State (5-8, 1-0 MAC) took down Missouri State (2-8) 5-2 on Friday (Oct. 4) to kickoff Homecoming weekend, then fell to No. 10 Northwestern 3-1 on Sunday.
Just one minute into Friday's game the Flashes took a lead that they would not relinquish. Rebecca Lee made a pass in front of the net, enabling Hannah Faulkner to take the scoring shot. Melanie Kahn and Julia Hofmann added goals to give Kent State a 3-0 halftime lead, then Madison Thompson and Lee added second-half tallies to put the match away.
Goalkeeper Andrea Rinehart finished with three saves in her second career start.
Thompson scored KSU's lone goal against Northwestern (10-3). The Flashes defense, anchored by Sabrina Binder, kept the match close against the talented Wildcats.
Kent State gets back into conference play on Saturday, hosting Central Michigan at noon in its Shoot Out Parkinson's game.
Kent State senior Taylor Pendrith was named MAC Men's Golfer of the Week, while junior Jennifer Ha earned the MAC Women's Golfer of the Week honor for the second straight week.
Pendrith shot 5-under 208 (67-73-68) to take the runner-spot in a highly competitive field at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Columbus. He finished just one stroke behind California's Brandon Hagy, No. 7 in Golfweek's rankings, for individual medalist honors.
Ha led Kent State to its second straight team title by winning her second consecutive individual crown at the Nittany Lion Invitational. She shot 4-under 212 to win by four strokes, carding 10 birdies and an eagle in three rounds.
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