Duquesne edges YSU in home opener
By Greg Gulas
The YSU Penguins and Duquesne University volleyball teams have a history of playing close games.
On Tuesday at the Beeghly Center, the Dukes found themselves in yet another down-to-the-wire match, needing to go the distance in order to defeat host YSU, 3-2.
The game marked the home opener for the Penguins (1-3), who fell for the third consecutive time.
Duquesne copped the first two games of the match by 25-22 and 25-21 scores, YSU rallied for a 26-24 win in the third game and then followed that with a 25-23 decision in the fourth game.
The Dukes claiming the rubber game, 16-14.
“For us, we came out really flat, didn’t have a lot of energy and that was my talk to the team in between the second and third games,” YSU head coach Mark Hardaway said. “I told them that we needed to come out and work a little harder because they were outworking us and had a lot more energy.”
Hardaway said his team is battling some early season injuries, but refused to use that as an excuse.
“We just need to trust each other, play aggressive all the time and try to ignore the scoreboard,” he said. “That was the message to them and I was really excited at how they responded. We came back and never quit, even in the fifth and deciding game when we fell behind, we just kept pushing and that’s really what we want to see this early in the season.”
In the opening game, Molly Davet staked Duquesne (2-2) to the early 4-0 advantage, later forging a 15-10 lead when she added two more points as the Dukes led throughout the opening game for a 25-22 win.
YSU fell behind 15-10 once again in the second game, rallied to cut the lead to 21-19 but watched as the Dukes scored four of the final six points for a 25-21 win and a 2-0 match lead.
In the first two games, the Penguins could manage just two ties with both coming early in the second contest.
The Penguins battled the Dukes to 18 ties and nine lead changes in the third game, capping a 26-24 decision when Sam Brown notched the final two service points.
“We had too many unforced errors tonight, but showed a lot of heart at the end of the game as we battled back,” Brown said. “We just need to channel that into all five games and we’ll be alright.”
Trailing 21-17 in the fourth game, five points by Val Jeffery helped YSU to a 22-21 lead, earning the deciding point of the game on an errant serve by the Dukes’ Maddie Bazelak for a 25-23 while forcing the fifth and deciding game.
“This wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but we were very competitive all night, especially after the first two games,” Jeffery said. “We cannot hesitate, need to trust one another and must go after everything as if it is our last touch.”
Knotted at 7-7 in the fifth and deciding fray, three points by Davet gave the Dukes an 11-8 lead, only to have YSU knot the game at 13-13 on three consecutive points by Brown.
The Dukes then scored the final two points of the game for the victory.
“It doesn’t matter what our records are or it one team is better than the other, the match always seems to go down to the wire,” Duquesne head coach Steve Opperman said. We had the upper hand in the first two games, YSU the upper hand the next two games with the final game also going down to the wire. YSU is an extremely scrappy team as they were able to get so many balls up and keep them in play.”
Brown had 22.5 points, 23 digs, four service aces and 17 kills with Jeffery adding 10 points and eight kills for YSU.
Bazelak had 26 points and 25 kills to pace the Dukes.
Duquesne now leads the all-time series, 21-13-1.