Akron Volleyball Drops Two Hard-Fought Weekend Matches

Zips fall to Buffalo and Ball State in their penultimate weekend of regular season play at James A. Rhodes Arena.


A.J. Fagerlin

Outside hitter Elya Karsner attacks against Buffalo during Akron’s match on Thursday, Nov. 2.

By A.J. Fagerlin, Sports Contributor

The Akron Zips volleyball team continued to battle hard this weekend against Buffalo and Ball State but were unable to break through with a victory. The Zips record now sits at 6-20 overall and 2-12 in the conference.

The Zips struggles continued, as Akron dropped their 10th and 11th consecutive matches, after jumping out with a 2-1 led to begin MAC play. Despite missing their offensive leader for the last two weeks, outside hitter Kayla Gwozdz, the Zips have persisted and have continued to compete at a high level, staying in each and every set and match until the end.

Akron’s first match of the weekend was on Thursday night against the Buffalo Bulls. After battling hard in the first set only to see nine tie scores, the Zips found themselves with their backs against the wall, quickly down two sets to none heading into the break. But Akron would not go down without a fight, coming out and winning set three by scoring seven consecutive points to end the set, earning the 25-19 set victory.

The Zips were right in the fourth set as well, keeping the score tight to a 16-16 mark. The Bulls offense then ignited, going on a 5-0 scoring run, giving them a large enough advantage to hold off the Zips 25-20. Buffalo won the match 3-1 (25-21, 25-15, 19-25, 25-20). Outside hitter Madi Baer paced the Akron offense with 15 kills, while libero Taylor Sharrits tallied 17 digs defensively. Middle blocker Jessica Kloehn led the match with six blocks to go with her seven kills.

On Saturday, the Zips took on the Ball State Cardinals, who were atop the MAC West Division standings. Coming in as the underdog, Akron was in great position to win each of the three sets, but was unable to put them away in result Ball State was able to take a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 29-27) match victory.

To begin the match, the Zips came out strong, taking the first three points of the first set. Ball State responded with three points of their own, Akron stormed ahead with a 5-0 scoring run to give them a bit of a cushion going forward. For the majority of the set, the Zips did not relinquish the lead, finding themselves ahead 22-18. However, four consecutive points for the Cardinals tied up the set, and after one more Akron point, Ball State rounded out the set with three more unanswered points to steal the 25-23 victory.

After jumping out to an early lead once again in set two, the Zips had to fight off a Ball State run earlier this time around. With a 10-6 lead, Akron saw the Cardinals rattle off eight consecutive points to grab a four-point advantage of their own. This time it was the Zips’ turn to battle back, tying the set at 19-19, and taking a lead at 23-21. However, Akron just could not finish off the game, allowing  Ball State to score four straight points for the 25-23 win.

Going behind two sets to none for the second consecutive match, the Zips hoped to repeat their set three performance from Thursday coming out of the break. Even with Akron playing another outstanding set, set three was the final blow in Saturday’s heartbreaking match for the Zips and their fans.

After striking first for the third consecutive set, the Zips utilized two separate 5-0 scoring runs to grab a lead and sprint to set point, 24-16. Things just weren’t going Akron’s way on the day, as Ball State managed eight straight points to tie the set. Again, Akron would not go down easily, fighting off two match points before ultimately falling 29-27.

Akron was led offensively by Kloehn with 10 kills, and outside hitter Alexis Adleta with 9 kills, respectively. The Zips totaled eight service aces in the match. Three of which came from middle blocker Ashley Richardson, and Sharrits added five of her own, also totaling 16 digs on the day.

The Zips will round out their regular season this upcoming weekend, Friday, Nov. 10 and Saturday, Nov. 11 against MAC East-leading Bowling Green and Miami (OH). Friday’s match against the BGSU Falcons is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. Saturday is Senior Day against the Miami RedHawks at 5:00 p.m. The Zips will be honoring their three seniors, middle blockers Jessica Kloehn and Julie Shallman, and defensive specialist Aubrey Kozer, during their final match at James A. Rhodes Arena of 2017.

All students are admitted free with their Zip Card. For tickets, visit www.GoZips.com/Tickets or call/text 888-99-Akron. Saturday’s match will also be broadcasted on ESPN3.