Volleyball Starts Season with Two Wins at Penguin Classic

Brooklen Pe'a (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Brooklen Pe'a (Photo by Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State volleyball team began the 2019 season with a pair of victories at the Penguin Classic on Friday at Beeghly Center. Behind 57 combined kills from Aleah Hughes and Brooklen Pe'a, YSU beat Saint Francis U in three sets in the afternoon and Bucknell in four sets in the evening.

The Penguins will go for an unbeaten weekend and a tournament title when they host The Citadel at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the final match of the Penguin Classic. The first 150 fans in attendance will receive a free ticket to next Saturday's YSU football home opener.

Saint Francis and The Citadel will begin Saturday's action at 10 a.m., and the Red Flash will take on Bucknell at 12:30 p.m. Bucknell topped The Citadel in four sets in the other match at the tournament on Friday.

Match 1 vs. Saint Francis U

Pe'a posted her first career double-double with 11 kills and 14 digs while hitting .333 to lead the Penguins to a sweep of the Red Flash in the 2019 opener. The set scores were 25-17, 25-17 and 25-16.

Youngstown State hit better than .200 in all three sets, and four players posted at least nine digs. In addition to Pea's 14 digs, Margaux Thompson and Bailey Ramlow both had 10, and Hughes added nine to go along with her match-high 12 kills.

The Penguins went on a 14-5 run in the opening set behind long serving stretches from Pe'a and Aimee Beaupre to go up 17-9. They then scored seven of the first 10 points in the second set and never trailed. YSU's final deficit of the match came at 5-4 in the third, and the Penguins quickly flipped that into a 16-3 lead behind another long run on Beaupre's serve.

Youngstown State hit .255 in the match, setter Alexia Byrnes had 33 assists. Valor Haggerty added seven kills on a .278 attack percentage.

Nicole Adams had nine of Saint Francis' 28 kills.

Match 2 vs. Bucknell

Hughes and Pe'a combined for 34 kills on just 65 attempts and hit .400 collectively as the Penguins topped the Bison in four sets. The scores were 25-21, 25-20, 18-25, 25-17.

Youngstown State hit at least .267 in each of the three sets it won, including an impressive .364 in the final set as it finished off its second win of the day. Hughes and Pe'a had 13 kills against just one error in 19 attempts in the fourth set alone.

Hughes had a match-high 19 kills on a .444 attack percentage, and Pe'a backed her up with 15 kills and nine digs in another solid effort. Haggerty added eight, and Byrnes finished with match highs of 45 assists and 16 digs.

There were 11 ties and three lead changes in the opening set, and the final tie came as late as 17-17. Thompson and Hughes had back-to-back kills to spark a 4-0 run, and YSU outscored the Bison 8-4 to win 25-21. The Penguins also had a four-point run at the end of the second set to close out Bucknell and win 25-20. Alyssa Oswald and Pe'a had kills on consecutive points to complete the set and give YSU a 2-0 lead in the match.

Bucknell got right back in the contest in the third set as it took an early 9-4 lead and never trailed. The Bison hit .308 in the third set, but YSU slowed them down to hit .000 in the fourth as it finished off the match. The final tie in the fourth came at 9-9, and Hughes had a kill and a block during an ensuing four-point run that allowed the Penguins to take the lead for good.