The Youngstown State volleyball team battled back from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth set but lost in a five-set affair to Duquesne on Tuesday night at Beeghly Center. The set scores in what was YSU's home opener were 25-22, 25-21, 24-26, 23-25, 16-14.
Sam Brown led the Penguins with 17 kills and a career-high 23 digs, and she was joined in double digits in kills by Lori Vanbeek (13) and Valor Haggerty (11). Dana Borsz registered a career-best 27 digs, and setter Val Jeffery approached a triple double with eight kills and nine digs to go along with her 51 assists. She did not have an error in 16 attacks.
Maddie Bazelak had a match-high 25 kills, nine of which came in the fifth set, to lead Duquesne. The Dukes improved to 2-2 with the victory and beat the Penguins in five sets for the third straight season.
Duquesne got out to leads of at least 6-1 in each of the first two sets before YSU made them close late.
Youngstown State's first lead of the night came at 1-0 to start the third set, and there went on to be 18 ties and 10 lead changes in that third set. The largest margin in the set was three when Duquesne led 13-10. YSU fought off a match point when Sarah Varcolla and Haggerty blocked Bazelak, and a ball-handling error and a Brown ace gave YSU the 26-24 win.
Duquesne led 20-14 in the fourth before YSU stormed back by scoring eight of the next nine points – primarily on Jeffery's serve – to take a 22-21 lead. A kill and an ace by Brown set up set point, and YSU tied the match on a ball-handling error.
YSU's only lead in the fifth set was at 1-0, and back-to-back kills by Bazelak gave the Dukes a 13-9 lead. The Penguins scored the next four points to tie the set at 13, and they fought off their second match point to tie it at 14. Bazelak set up another match point at 15-14, and the Dukes held on when Vanbeek's off-balance attack went wide.
Youngstown State will play three matches in North Carolina over the weekend, beginning with a contest at Elon on Friday at 7 p.m.