The Youngstown State volleyball team put together an energetic and solid all-around effort to sweep defending conference champion Cleveland State in the Horizon League opener for both teams on Friday at Beeghly Center.
Missy Hundelt had 10 kills and 14 digs, and Alexis Egler added 10 kills for the Penguins, who defeated the Vikings for the first time since 2001. Erika West added a match-high 16 digs, and Casey D'Ambrose and Jessie Gerig combined for 31 assists in the Penguins' 6-2 offense. YSU won 25-19, 25-20, 28-26 for its first victory in a conference opener in 15 years.
Youngstown State was particularly strong on defense, holding the Horizon League's top hitting team to a .100 attack percentage. The Vikings averaged four kills fewer per set than their standard coming into the match.
Kerry Winchester had seven kills to lead Cleveland State.
The Penguins posted five blocks and a .290 attack percentage in the opening set and did not trail after taking the lead at 6-5. YSU's largest lead of the set was three until a 5-1 run put the Red and White ahead 23-18. Hundelt and Shannon Watson finished off the set with back-to-back kills for YSU.
A kill by Gerig started a five-point run for the Penguins that put them up 13-9 in the second set, and they built their lead to five at 18-13. Cleveland State scored the next four points to cut the margin to one at 18-17, but YSU closed the set on a 7-3 run to take the two-set lead. Egler had two kills in that final stretch, and Jenna Cavanaugh had the kill on set point.
The Penguins looked poised to run away with the third set by leading 18-12 midway through and 24-18 after an Egler kill. Cleveland State went on to score the next six points of the set to tie it, and Aly Ryan's kill ended the run and gave the Penguins their seventh match point. Cavanaugh hit just wide on the next point, and Kelly Kiger's kill put Cleveland State ahead 26-25. Hundelt and Cavanaugh had a block, just the second for YSU since the first set, for the next point, and Nichele Johnson and Cavanaugh had kills to complete the victory.
YSU will step back out of conference play on Tuesday for a home match against Kent State at 7 p.m.