Duquesne volleyball wins two of three in Youngstown trip

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics

Luke Henne | Sports Editor

Sept. 2, 2021

In its first non-conference action in almost two years, the Duquesne volleyball team made the most of its trip to Youngstown, Ohio, winning two of three matches during the YSU/DoubleTree-Youngstown Invitational this past weekend.

In their first match Friday afternoon at the Beeghly Center, the Dukes defeated host Youngstown State in three sets. Hailey Poling led the way with 27 assists, while Summer Slade registered 11 digs and 10 kills in the season-opening victory over the Penguins.

The win marked the first for the Dukes in a non-conference contest since Sept. 21, 2019, when they defeated Eastern Kentucky during the Mountaineer Invitational in Morgantown, W.Va.

Just hours later, Duquesne took on Saint Francis (Pa.), besting the Red Flash in four sets. Poling added another 31 assists in the second victory of the day for Head Coach Steve Opperman’s squad.

Morgan Kelly posted 13 kills and seven digs, while Slade recorded 11 digs and nine kills.

The back-to-back victories were the first for Duquesne since they won three straight over George Mason (twice) and La Salle in Oct. 2019.

After regrouping, the Dukes returned to the floor Saturday afternoon to take on Akron in their final match of the invitational.

After dropping the first set, the Dukes regrouped and took both the second and third frames. However, they couldn’t close out the match, and the Zips grabbed the fourth set by a 25-23 tally before besting Duquesne, 15-13, in the deciding set.

Kelly recorded 24 kills and 18 digs in the loss, while three other Dukes posted 15 or more digs.

Despite the defeat in the invitational’s final game, Duquesne started the season with two wins. During the truncated spring season, the Dukes won just one of their nine contests.

The Dukes don’t get to return to the confines of UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse just yet, but they will be closer to home for their next trio of games.

Duquesne is set to participate in the RMU/Chick-fil-A Robinson Labor Day Classic this weekend at the UPMC Events Center in Moon Township, Pa. The Dukes will battle both Idaho and Liberty Friday before taking on host Robert Morris Saturday afternoon.

The upcoming weekend invitational is the first of three non-conference, multi-team events over the next three weekends for the Dukes.

Duquesne will head to Buffalo, N.Y., to square off against Canisius, Buffalo and American in the Western New York Invitational Sept. 10 and Sept. 11.

The Dukes will then head to Kent, Ohio, for the Kent State Invitational, where they’ll meet Youngstown State again (Sept. 17) before facing host Kent State (Sept. 18).