Duquesne volleyball splits final pair of non-conference games

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Morgan Kelly attemps to earn a kill during Duquesne’s three-set victory over Idaho on Sept. 3. The junior from Florence, Ky., has recorded double-digit kills in nine of the Dukes’ 11 contests this season.

Luke Henne | Sports Editor

Sept. 23, 2021

In what was its final non-conference tune-up before diving into Atlantic 10 Conference competition, the Duquesne women’s volleyball team went 1-1 during its trip to Kent, Ohio, for the Kent State Invitational this past weekend.

On Friday, the Dukes were defeated by Youngstown State in four sets, as the Penguins avenged their Aug. 27 loss to Duquesne in an emphatic manner. In its three winning sets, Youngstown State outscored Duquesne by marks of 25-20, 25-17 and 25-14.

The win was the Penguins’ first over the Dukes since they beat Duquesne in three sets at the A.J. Palumbo Center on Sept. 1, 2018.

For the Dukes, Morgan Kelly recorded 17 kills and seven digs, while Summer Slade posted nine kills and 10 digs. Camille Spencer also accounted for 19 of the team’s 58 digs.

After what was the team’s third consecutive loss, Duquesne was desperate for a victory on Saturday in a true road match against Kent State.

After falling behind 2-1 through three sets, the Dukes responded with a 25-21 fourth-set victory to force a final set. The Dukes claimed the final frame by a mark of 16-14, securing their first victory over the Golden Flashes since Sept. 17, 2010.

Hailey Poling posted 50 assists and 18 digs in the win. Poling was one of three Dukes to post 13-plus digs. Slade and Kelly each recorded 14 kills in the victory.

After a non-conference slate in which Duquesne went 5-6, the Dukes will begin to shift their focus to the A-10 portion of their schedule.

This coming weekend, a two-game trip will set the tone for Duquesne’s conference slate of games.

The Dukes will play on back-to-back days at George Mason (Sept. 24) and George Washington (Sept. 25).

Since George Mason’s entrance into the A-10 prior to the 2013 campaign, the Dukes have won eight of their 10 meetings with the Patriots, including a season sweep in 2019.

On the other hand, George Washington has been able to cause more problems for Duquesne. The Colonials have won three of their last four matches against the Dukes, including two three-set victories in 2019.

During the spring campaign, Duquesne did not play either opponent, as the conference was split into two geographical pods. Duquesne’s pod consisted of Davidson, Dayton, Saint Louis, VCU and itself.

Following the road contests on consecutive days, the Dukes will be the beneficiaries of a home-heavy schedule.

After returning from the two-game trip, the Dukes are scheduled to play six of their next seven contests at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.