Courtesy of Kent State Athletic Communications Department
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Kent State closed the door on its non-conference slate with a 3-1 (15-25, 20-25, 27-25, 20-25) loss to host Youngstown State Tuesday evening at the Beeghly Center.
The Golden Flashes (7-8) found an offensive rhythm coming out of the intermission and put up a resilient effort to force a fourth set. Kent State posted 18 kills in the third set, as junior middle blocker Liz Reikow led the attack with four kills and sophomore opposite Kelly Hutchison added three.
In the third set, the Flashes took their first lead at 22-21, but had it quickly slip away and faced match point at 24-22. They responded with a kill from Reikow, an attack error by YSU and a kill by freshman outside hitter Bianca Cifaldi to regain the lead. Following a YSU kill and service error, Cifaldi extended the match with another kill.
Kent State was unable to sustain its play in the fourth set, however. The Flashes hit just. .159 in the final set compared to .317 for the Penguins.
The Flashes were unable to get their hitters on track early against a Penguin defense that ranks 24th nationally in blocks per set, resulting in a 2-0 deficit. While both teams had 10 kills in the opening set, the Flashes committed 11 attack errors. While Kent State's hitters were better in the next set, so were Youngstown State's. The Flashes hit .167 in the set, but the Penguins had their best output of the match with 16 kills and .367 attack percentage.
Cifaldi posted a match-high 14 kills, her 11th straight in double-figures. Hutchison tabbed her second double-double of the season with 12 kills and 11 digs to go with a .310 attack percentage. Reikow added 11 kills. Senior setter Aleksandra Nowak recorded her fifth double-double of the season 40 assists and 12 digs. Senior libero Hannah Herc moved into seventh on Kent State's all-time digs list with a team-best 13 on the night.
Kent State returns to the M.A.C. Center for a pair of MAC matches this weekend against Bowling Green and Miami. Friday's match against the Falcons will mark the debut of Kent State volleyball on Golden Flashes Radio on iHeartRadio.