Freshman Mackenzie McGuire sets court on fire – Kent Wired


Mackenzie McGuire’s seasoned teammate thinks she’s already a threat to the Mid-American Conference.

This freshman has played in every game of her volleyball team’s tournaments so far. After her performance this weekend, the outside hitter is even leading the pack.

“He’s this feisty little rookie,” middle blocker Danie Tyson said. “The MAC is going to have some rude awakenings this season and the seasons to come. It’s gonna be amazing.

At the Kent State Invitational on Friday and Saturday, McGuire earned 49 eliminations for 129 attempts – each tallying the highest of any KSU player at the tournament. She hit at least 15 kills per game, leading her team to a 2-1 finish.

Outside hitter Mackenzie McGuire returns the ball over the net as opposing team Cornell University sets up a block. McGuire led his team with 15 kills in Saturday morning’s game. (Asha Blake)

Kent State’s volleyball team is tied with Cornell for first place in the three-team competition.

In his first-ever collegiate tournament on Aug. 26-27, McGuire had 26 kills in three games.

Coach Haley Eckerman said she saw a new team for the first year this weekend.

“I’m glad it started to pick up,” the first-year head coach said. “She was thinking a lot last weekend and in training the last two weeks, so getting her to understand her role in this team and how well she could handle the game is huge for her.”

After its first two tournaments of the season, the Kent State volleyball team is now 4-2 overall.

McGuire and his team earned a 3-0 victory in their home opener Friday against Southern Indiana, which had just 21 kills for .030 save percentage to KSU’s .198.

About 400 people came to watch The Flashes’ home debut. For McGuire, who started in all three games at the MAC Center, the gym atmosphere added to his game.

“The energy on the pitch really keeps me going,” McGuire said. “All sets were very good, and my team talked to me about what’s open and where swinging helped as well.”

Saturday’s matches weren’t as quick as Friday’s.

In their morning game against Cornell, the Flashes managed to maintain the highest hit percentage but still fell to the Big Red 3-1.

Senior Savannah Matthews, a frontline regular since 2019, didn’t play in all sets Friday night and Saturday morning. Senior Taylor Heberle saw more time as an outside hitter, tallying 17 kills over the two games.

Kent State women’s volleyball players Taylor Heberle (left) and Danie Tyson jump in the air to block a shot from the Cornell University team. The Kent women played an intense game but were beaten 3-1. (Asha Blake)

“Every day we keep training and seeing how people are doing,” Eckerman said, “and Taylor did a really good job this week and earned that spot. Then Savannah was ready to come back and do her job. too.

Matthews was back in all four sets of Saturday night’s match. She has racked up 16 wins.

In their last game against Oakland, the Flashes finished with a solid 25-15 record in the first set. Then the Grizzlies started to pick up speed.

The second set still gave Kent a 25-21 victory, but Oakland built momentum in the third set and held the lead throughout the battle.

“We got a little nonchalant and let them take over instead of doing our job and putting pressure on them,” Eckerman said. “We allowed ourselves to make more mistakes and play not to lose instead of playing to win.”

After a 25-23 loss, Kent brought new momentum to their fourth set.

“The goal was to keep a cool head and then work on getting better and not be an emotional roller coaster,” Eckerman said. “I challenged them to stay energetic all the time.”

The Flashes held a nine-point lead for most of the game. As the Grizzlies tried to close the gap, KSU won the final set 25-18.

For Tyson, staying calm was key to fending off Oakland’s construction offense.

“We unfortunately like to put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Tyson said, “so we really tightened up and said, ‘No more unforced errors, we need to refine ourselves, go one-on-one and play our side. ”

For the second tournament in a row, senior Gracey Jarecke played libero in every match over the weekend. It’s the second time since the start of last season that graduate student Erin Gardner — who holds the third-highest digging record in program history — hasn’t started in the position.

Jarecke had 48 digs and led his team in digs in the first two games of the weekend.

The elder could see more time as the starting defenseman advanced.

“Gracey’s numbers are so consistent, and most of the libero is consistent,” Eckerman said. “We are working on making it more urgent and aggressive and taking more control on the back row.”

Defensive specialist Gracey Jarecke digs the ball in as the other Golden Flash players watch and get into position to strike against Cornell. Jarecke finished the match in four sets with 16 digs. (Asha Blake)

The Flashes, like last week and even last season, have always struggled with unforced errors. Between the three games, 25 points were lost due to service errors.

Eckerman said this 2-1 weekend proves there is still room for improvement.

“It showed the things we still need to work on,” Eckerman said. “The greatest [thing] manages those mistakes and puts them in more situations in training where if the ball isn’t a good set they do a better job of dealing with that.

Next stop: the Marshall Invite in West Virginia. KSU plays Murray State Friday at 3 p.m., then Charleston Southern at 10 a.m. and Marshall at 6 p.m. Saturday.

This will be the Flashes’ last tournament before the MAC. Only two games after the invitation separate them from the conference opener against Bowling Green, which was chosen to finish first in the MAC.

Going into her third tournament representing Kent State, Eckerman said she knows her team can go far.

“When we’re in control and passing well and can give all three options as hitters and move the offense,” Eckerman said, “it’s really hard to defend ourselves.”

Isabella Schreck is a sports writer. Contact her at [email protected].


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