EAST LANSING, Mich. – Eastern Kentucky was one point away from falling 3-0 to Youngstown State, and one point away from losing 3-2, but the Colonels rallied each time to earn a 3-2 victory on Friday at the Spartan Showcase.

Eastern won by scores of 19-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-15 and 16-14. It was the season-opener for both teams.

After falling behind 2-0, EKU began to rally late in the third set. YSU built a 17-12 lead, but the Colonels went on a 6-1 run to tie the score, 18-18.  Kelsey Kuehner had two blocks and a kill during the run. Eastern couldn’t pull ahead, but never trailed by more than two and tied the set three more times. 

A kill by Aly Ryan gave the Penguins match-point at 24-22, but the Colonels didn’t fold. A kill by Ashley Edmond cut the deficit back to one. Rachel Vick followed with a kill to tie the set.  A Youngstown attack error gave EKU its first lead since 12-11. Vick completed the comeback moments later with a solo block for a 26-24 win.

Eastern Kentucky scored the first five points of the fourth set and never looked back. Back-to-back kills by Alexis Plagens and Kuehner, followed by a YSU error, polished off a 25-15 win in set number four.

It looked as if Youngstown had put the brakes on the EKU comeback by jumping out to a 9-3 lead in the decisive fifth set. The Penguins were up by four, 14-10, when the Colonels rolled off six unanswered to claim the victory. A block by Kuehner and Edmond tied the score at 14-14. Newcomer Julia Mindlina served up an ace before Kuehner closed it out with a solo block. 

Kuehner and Plagens led Eastern Kentucky with 12 kills each. Kuehner posted a .321 attack percentage and had six blocks. Edmond finished with 10 kills and Vick contributed nine.  Dena Ott posted 22 digs.  Mindlina had two aces and 13 digs.

The Penguins were led by Shannon Watson’s 17 kills and .433 hitting percentage. Missy Hundelt added 10 kills.

Both teams had a .146 attack percentage, but Eastern Kentucky held an 11-9 advantage in blocks.