NKU Rallies to Top Youngstown State in Five Sets

Nikki Thompson (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Nikki Thompson (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Northern Kentucky hit .400 over the final three sets to rally for a five-set victory over Youngstown State to spoil the Penguins' Senior Night on Saturday. The set scores were 14-25, 21-25, 26-24, 25-15, 15-8.

Aly Ryan had a career-high 16 kills, and five other Penguins had at least eight kills. Sam Brown and Lori Vanbeek both had 12 kills, and Sarah Varcolla finished with 11. Libero Nikki Thompson led all players with 23 digs, which allowed her to move into second place on Youngstown State's career digs list.

NKU freshman Haley Libs had 26 kills, and Keely Creamer finished with 16. Those two players combined for just six errors in 80 attempts.

Youngstown State scored eight of the first 11 points in the opening set, and NKU got no closer than three points the rest of the set. The Penguins then battled through eight ties in the second set, the final time at 15-15, to win 25-21 and take a two-set lead.

NKU built a 5-2 lead early in the third set, and, after YSU tied the score at 5-5, the Norse led until the Penguins caught them at 24. NKU led 24-21 before kills by Vanbeek and Varcolla each had a kill and combined on a block to tie the score. Tristen Simpson gave NKU the lead on a kill, and Jayden Julian finished it. Northern Kentucky then scored seven of the first eight points in the fourth set and won 25-15.

Youngstown State jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set after a kill by Val Jeffery, and the Penguins led 5-2 after an NKU serving error. The Norse then scored five straight points on McKenzie Eskridge's serve and did not trail again. NKU closed the match by scoring six of the final seven points.

Youngstown State will play its final home match of the season on Tuesday against Wright State at 7 p.m.