Volleyball Completes First Half of League Play This Weekend in Wisconsin

YSU Volleyball (Photo by Regina Thompson)
YSU Volleyball (Photo by Regina Thompson)

The Youngstown State volleyball team will complete the first loop through its Horizon League schedule this weekend as it travels to Milwaukee and Green Bay. The Penguins and Panthers will play Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, and YSU's match against the Phoenix will be on Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern. Live video of both matches will be on ESPN+, and live stats will be linked on YSUsports.com.

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State is 7-12 overall and 1-5 in Horizon League play as it heads to Wisconsin this week. The Penguins played their first 15 matches of the season on the road, and they play five of their first eight conference contests on the road. YSU begins a four-match home stand next week.
  • The Penguins have already matched their conference win total from last season, and they are one win shy of tying their overall win total. YSU has replaced a four-year starter and six-rotation player, its starting libero from the past two seasons and its starting setter from last year.
  • YSU won its first three matches of the campaign and was 5-2 after impressive wins over UNLV and Duquesne at the Duquesne Invitational on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
  • Youngstown State ranks sixth in the country with 18.64 digs per set, which is four more than it averaged in 2017 and the most in school history since 1995. YSU averaged 14.64 digs per set in 2017, and it hasn't averaged more than 15 digs per set since 2008. Three Horizon League teams actually rank above YSU in the national digs rankings as Northern Kentucky, IUPUI and Cleveland State occupy the top three spots.
  • YSU is also fourth nationally with 40.13 team attacks per set. Aleah Hughes and Margaux Thompson have combined for 45.8 percent of the team's total attacks.
  • Hughes and Thompson are the only two players to rank in the top 10 in the Horizon League in both kills and digs per set. Hughes ranks third in kills (3.03) and seventh in digs (4.01), and Thompson is eighth in both kills (2.76) and digs (3.99).
  • If Hughes can maintain her pace, she'll finish with a historically-significant season at YSU. The Penguins have had only two players average at least three kills and four digs per set in the same season, and the last time it happened was in 1993. Hughes leads YSU in both kills and digs per set, and she's vying to become the first Penguin since 2003 to lead in both categories.
  • Thompson has been YSU's libero the past two matches and was primarily a back-row player the previous match. She's been strong defensively all year, and she's increased her pace to 5.12 digs per set in conference play. That's the sixth-best mark in the league.
  • Sarah Varcolla ranks ninth in school history with 353 career blocks, and she is 52 blocks shy of cracking the top five. She has picked it up in conference play with an average of 1.42 blocks per set. That's the fifth-best average in the league since conference play began. Varcolla also ranks 18th in program history with 867 career kills.
  • Since YSU began running a 5-1 offense with Giovanna Kuntze as its setter on Sept. 14, Kuntze is averaging 8.93 assists per set over eight matches. That total for the year would rank fourth in the Horizon League. Kuntze's counterpart at the position, Alexia Byrnes, has been out since Sept. 11.
  • Aline Scott is in her first season as YSU's head coach. She is the 10th head coach in program history, and she is a head coach at the Division I level for the first time in her career. She spent eight previous seasons coaching in Ohio, the previous three as the head coach at Division III Hiram and five as an assistant at Akron.

Recapping Last Week

  • Youngstown State was swept in both of its matches last week, falling on Wednesday to Northern Kentucky in Beeghly Center and on Friday at UIC.
  • Sarah Varcolla had an impressive week blocking with nine blocks in the six sets. She had eight of those blocks in the match against NKU.
  • The Norse and Flames were both strong offensively as NKU hit .215 on Wednesday and UIC hit .381 on Friday. The Flames had 49 kills in 105 attempts.
  • Erin Kalahar had her best match in more than a month against the Norse. She had nine kills in 21 attempts and added three blocks. She had eight kills total in limited action in September.
  • Brooklen Pe'a had six kills, her most since the start of Horizon League play, versus the Flames.

Scouting Opponents

  • Milwaukee: Milwaukee is 3-16 overall but two of its wins have come since the start of Horizon League play. The Panthers, who will be looking for their first home victory of 2018, have beaten Wright State and IUPUI on the road since the start of the conference slate. Jenna Miller is hitting a league-best .308 with just nine errors in 107 attempts, and Jess Grabowski ranks fifth in the league with 4.79 digs per set. Kylie Wilks leads UWM in kills (141) and aces (11) while ranking second in digs (217).
  • Green Bay: Green Bay is 10-8 overall and is second in the Horizon League standings with a 5-1 conference mark. The Phoenix are one of the top offensive teams in the league, ranking second in kills (13.05) and assists (12.22) per set while sitting tied for first in hitting percentage (.196). Taylor Wolf averages 4.67 kills per set, which ranks 12th in the country and first in the league by 0.48), and Maddie Yoss paces the league in assists per set (10.34). Vanessa Buman ranks second in digs per set with 5.13.

Next Week

  • Youngstown State has the bulk of its home schedule on the horizon with five of the next six matches being played at Beeghly Center. The Penguins will begin a four-match home stand on Oct. 19 against Cleveland State, and they will also host Oakland on Oct. 20.