Brooklen Pe'a tallied 14 digs and 10 digs to earn Most Valuable Player honors, and the Youngstown State volleyball team finished off an unbeaten weekend at the Penguin Classic by beating The Citadel in four sets on Saturday at Beeghly Center. The set scores were 20-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-14.
Pe'a averaged 3.64 kills, 3.0 digs and 0.64 blocks while hitting .345 as YSU went 3-0 in its season-opening tournament. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Aleah Hughes and Alexia Byrnes. Hughes had nine kills and a match-best 24 digs to finish off a tournament in which she averaged 3.64 kills and 3.55 digs per set. Byrnes came off the bench to posit 33 assists and 11 digs, and she averaged 10.09 assists and 3.0 digs over the three matches.
Makaya Middleton led The Citadel with nine kills, and all-tournament team selection Kenzie Kellerman finished with 23 digs.
The Citadel won the first set despite having just eight kills as the Bulldogs had four aces and benefited from four YSU serving errors. The Citadel went on to have 11 aces in the match.
The Bulldogs scored the first four points of the second set as they looked to gain control early, but YSU scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 10-6 lead. The Penguins went on to hit .333 in the set behind six kills from Alyssa Oswald and three from Pe'a to tie the match.
YSU built an early 8-2 lead in the third, but The Citadel fought back to tie the score at 15 behind Kellerman's serve. The Bulldogs extended the run to 12-5 to take a 22-20 lead before YSU countered by scoring five of the final seven points of the set. The Citadel appeared to take a 23-22 lead after a kill by Maddy Carednas, but a successful challenge by YSU head coach Aline Scott of a net violation on the attack gave the Penguins the point and the 23-22 lead. Pe'a finished off the rally with her eighth kill of the afternoon.
Youngstown State's only deficit in the fourth set was 3-2, and three straight attack errors by The Citadel gave the Penguins a 9-4 lead. YSU then scored eight straight points behind Byrnes' serve to go up 20-10, and the final three points of the surge came on kills by Pe'a. Pe'a's sixth kill of the set and 14th of the match started a four-point run that ended the match.
The Citadel finished the weekend with a 1-2 record to finish third in the tournament standings. Bucknell was 2-1 with the lone loss to Youngstown State to finish second, and Saint Francis U was held winless to finish fourth.
Youngstown State will play three matches at the Cornell Invitational next weekend. The Penguins will play Niagara and the host Big Red on Friday, and they'll finish the tournament against Hartford on Saturday.