The Youngstown State volleyball team hit .301 over the final three sets and got a near triple-double from setter Alexia Byrnes in a 3-1 victory over NJIT on Saturday morning at the Bucknell Invitational. The set scores were 22-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-21.
The Penguins improved to 2-0 on the weekend and will play Bucknell at 5 p.m. for the tournament championship.
Byrnes, a redshirt freshman from Lisle, Ill., posted match-high totals of 37 assists and 23 digs, and she added nine kills in just 15 attempts. Margaux Thompson registered a match-best 16 kills and added an ace.
The Penguins hit .000 as a team in the opening set as they let an early lead slip away, but the rebounded to hit .500 in the second, .281 in the third and .200 in the fourth. The Highlanders hit no better than .143 in any set, and YSU's 83 digs helped limit NJIT to a .091 attack percentage in the match.
Youngstown State led 5-1 in the first set after Thompson's ace, but NJIT scored the next six points and did not trail again. The lead ballooned to six three times before YSU built some momentum to close within 24-22 late. The Penguins were able to carry the momentum into the second set as they never trailed and jumped out to an 11-4 lead. YSU had 15 kills and just two attack errors in the set, and Byrnes and Morgan Tippie were both 3-for-3 on attempts.
The third set was within two points until YSU took an 11-8 lead on a kill by Brooklen Pe'a. The Penguins led by at least two the rest of the set and extended their lead to six four times before the final margin grew to seven.
In the fourth, NJIT went on an 8-3 run to take a 12-8 lead following back-to-back blocks by Jovana Baosic and Liz Benson. The Penguins called timeout and regrouped with a 10-4 run that was capped by a Byrnes kill, which put them ahead 16-14. The Highlanders tied the score for the final time at 16, and YSU scored the next three points as part of an insurmountable 6-1 spurt.
Udo Nwosu led NJIT with nine kills, and Baosic and Benson both finished with five blocks.