Matchup with Akron to Kickoff PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge Highlights Pair of Home Matches for Kent State Volleyball This Weekend
Golden Flashes close three-match homestand Saturday (Oct. 6) against Akron in 2012's opening event of the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge, which further expands a rivalry dating back more than a half-century between the two schools.
The Kent State volleyball team continues its three-match stretch at home as it hosts a pair of Mid-American Conference foes at the M.A.C. Center this weekend. The weekend begins with a match against Buffalo at 7 p.m. Friday (Oct. 5). On Saturday (Oct. 6), the Golden Flashes will host rival Akron in the opening event of PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge for the 2012-13 academic year.
First-year head coach Don Gromala looks to lead the Golden Flashes to a pair of critical conference wins against divisional opponents after dropping three straight conference matches. Since earning a thrilling 3-2 victory at Miami to pen MAC play, the Flashes have not won a set in three straight matches.
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. This year, the challenge will 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.
Kent State has had more success against Buffalo than any other MAC school, owning a 20-7 (.741) record all-time against the Bulls. The Golden Flashes own a four-match winning streak against Buffalo and have won nine of the last 12 meetings going back to the 2007 season.
For live updates from this weekend's matches, follow the Flashes on Twitter @KentStVball. Live stats and video will be available for both matches.
- Junior setter Aleksandra Nowak (Damnica, Poland) recorded 49 assists in two matches last week, giving her 2,042 assists for her career. Nowak, who averages 8.78 assist per set on the season, is just the fifth player in Kent State history to eclipse 2,000 assists.
- Junior defensive specialist/libero Hannah Herc (Eden, N.Y.) has picked up her play in MAC competition. Herc is averaging 4.43 digs per set in conference play and leads the team with 3.76 digs per set for the season.
- Sophomore outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola (Ellicott City, Md.) leads the Flashes kills (168), kills per set (3.05), points (185.0), and points per set (3.36). Aderemi-Ibiotla has posted double-digit kills in nine matches, including 12 in Saturday's 3-0 loss to Central Michigan.
- Senior middle blocker Kathy Krupa (Burbank, Ill.) has 47 total blocks, which is tied for the team lead, and has come on offensively since beginning conference play. Krupa boasts a team-best .271 hitting percentage against MAC opponents and is posting 2.14 kills per set in MAC play. She recorded season-highs in points (20), kills (16), hitting percentage (.542), and aces (3) in a 3-2 win at Miami to open conference play.
Scouting Buffalo (7-9, 1-3)
- Buffalo entered MAC play on a three-match winning streak, but has dropped three of four conference matches. Like Kent State, Buffalo's lone conference win came over Miami.
- Junior libero Kelly Svoboda was named MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week after averaging 6.71 digs per set last weekend as the Bulls split with Miami and Bowling Green. Svoboda finished with a career-high 31 digs in the loss to Bowling Green and added 16 digs in the win over Miami. She averages 4.41 digs per set on the season.
- Sophomore outside hitter Liz Scott is the top hitter for the Bulls, leading the team in kills per set (2.87), hitting percentage (.233), and points (203.0).
- Junior setter Dani Reinert leads Buffalo with 9.12 assists per set.
- Buffalo ranks 56th in the nation, and second in the MAC, in blocks per set (2.45), led by freshman middle blocker Akeila Lain (1.34), who ranks 34th in the nation.
Scouting Akron (9-7, 2-2)
- Akron has played half of its matches at home, going 6-2 at James A. Rhodes Arena. The Zips are just 3-5 away from home, however, including two straight road losses.
- The Zips split lost 3-0 to Bowling Green and defeated Miami 302 last weekend.
- Redshirt senior middle blocker Tina Dimitrijevs was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Dimitrijevs posted 4.88 kills per set and a .485 hitting percentage over the course of eight sets last weekend. She leads the MAC, and ranks 17th nationally, in hitting percentage (.404). She also leads the Zips with 3.34 kills per set this season.
- Junior outside hitter Alex Cocklin is second on the team with 2.94 kills per set on the season. Cocklin has posted double-digit kills nine times this season.
- Senior setter Morgan Kuhn ranks is averaging 10.40 assists per set on the season for the Zips.
- Junior defensive specialist Jill Paluch leads Akron with 4.34 digs per set.
Kent State heads back on the road next weekend (Oct. 12-13) with road matches at Ball State and Toledo.