Ashland University's volleyball team played host to NCAA Division I Kent State in an exhibition match on Saturday (Aug. 19) night at Kates Gymnasium.
The Eagles lost all four sets against the Golden Flashes, but all four were competitive and close (25-21, 25-18, 25-21, 26-24).
"We're six days into preseason, and don't have a set lineup. We played everybody," said Ashland head coach Cass Dixon. "I'm really proud of the way we went after it. We were very competitive with Kent State. They have a great team. They play a fast system.
"There's a lot of things we have to work on, but I think playing against them helped us to really streamline what it is we need to focus on."
Ashland was paced offensively by sophomore outside hitter Shelby Woycik (11 kills) and sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sophi Cudworth (10 kills), and the setting duties were split up between junior Kayla Pfeiffer (20 assists) and freshman Kalie Apelt (13 assists).
Defensively, senior libero Melanie Aguayo was all over Ashland's end of the floor with a team-high 21 digs, and Pfeiffer added 16. As a team, Kent State was held to a .174 hitting percentage in the match, including .048 in the fourth and final set.
For the Golden Flashes, Kelsey Bittinger (14), Heather Younkin (11) and Darby Connors (11) each had double-digit kills, Brittney Jakscht posted 44 assists and Challen Geraghty led all players with 31 digs.
The Eagles used Saturday's exhibition match to try different lineup combinations.
"There's a lot of different options that are available, based on the level of our kids," Dixon said.
Ashland was picked to win the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division by conference head coaches, and returns 10 players, led by Woycik, an All-GLIAC honorable mention selection, and Cudworth, who landed a spot on the Midwest Region All-Tournament Team.
Kent State returns 13 letter winners from 2016, paced by seniors Bittinger (outside hitter) and Geraghty (defensive specialist/libero), each two-time first-team All-Mid-American Conference selections.
UP NEXT: The start of the 2017 regular season on Sept. 1-2 with four matches in the 2017 Quality Inn Ashland University Tournament.