KENT, Ohio - Toledo extended its recent dominance of Kent State on Saturday evening with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-27, 25-23, 25-18) triumph at the M.A.C. Center. The victory was UT's seventh straight over the Golden Flashes (10-11, 4-4 MAC) and kept the Rockets (12-10, 5-3 MAC) tied for second place in the MAC's West Division with Western Michigan (12-9, 5-3 MAC).
"I'm very happy with how we responded following a tough loss last night at Ohio," Head Coach Greg Smith said. "Kent State has been playing very well, but we came out with a good mindset and played aggressively. Winning on the road in the MAC isn't easy, and it's good to get a split with our next four matches at home."
Senior MB Dakota Harkins played a key role for UT in the victory with a season-high 12 blocks, one shy of her career best, to go along with 13 kills and a .522 attack percentage. Senior OH Lauren Rafdal paced UT's attack with 16 kills and also tallied 11 digs for her fifth double-double of the season.
Freshman libero Ellen Hays topped the Rockets' defensive efforts in the back row with 22 digs. Also recording a double-digit dig total was senior RSH Becca Reidy with 12 digs. Senior OH Jordan Kielty also returned to action for Toledo and collected nine digs playing the back row.
"Getting Jordan back out on the court was important for us because she's such a great leader," Smith said. "We had a lot of people step up for us tonight, including Dakota having a big match both offensively and defensively."
Toledo limited Kent State to a .124 hitting mark, thanks to a decisive 14.5-7.0 advantage in the blocking department.
Senior OH Bridget Wilhelm registered 13 kills for KSU and was one of four Golden Flashes to reach double figures in kills.
Harkins keyed the Rockets' surge at the end of Set 1 by tallying three kills in a 5-1 spurt that put the Rockets ahead, 22-17. She also added a block later as UT won the set 25-17.
Toledo tried to rally in Set 2 by scoring three straight points to take a 25-24 advantage on a kill from junior MB Brooke Frazer, a Rafdal block and a KSU hitting error. The Golden Flashes responded though with the next three points to even the match at 1-1.
UT started Set 3 strong as it surged to 14-9 lead. KSU regrouped though and scored four straight points to move ahead, 18-16, and force the Rockets to call timeout. Toledo immediately tied the score at 18-18 and took the lead for good at 23-21 following a Hays kill and a Kielty ace. Rafdal ended the set with a pair of kills for UT's final two points.
The Rockets eliminated any hopes of a Golden Flash comeback in Set 4 when it went on a 10-1 run for a 19-11 cushion. Harkins sparked the spurt with four blocks with Reidy also coming up with two aces.
Toledo returns home for its next four matches, beginning this weekend when it entertains Miami on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m. and Bowling Green on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 5:00 p.m.