Penguins Come Up Short in Close Loss to UIC

Sarah Varcolla (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Sarah Varcolla (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Despite a season-high 18 blocks, the Youngstown State volleyball team dropped a close match to UIC on Friday evening at Beeghly Center. The set scores were 25-22, 30-28, 14-25, 26-24.

Lori Vanbeek registered nine blocks, and Aly Ryan posted seven in helping the Penguins hold the Flames to a .114 attack percentage. Ryan added 12 kills, Sarah Varcolla matched her while posting a .312 attack percentage, and Lauren Thompson added 10. Nikki Thompson registered a match-best 18 digs.

Stephenee Yancy led all players with 24 of UIC's 52 kills while posting a .367 attack percentage. No other Flames player with more than six attempts hit better than .107. Yancy added seven blocks, and several of those came in big moments.

Yancey had eight kills in 10 attempts in the first set, and UIC rallied to win after trailing 21-18. YSU's serving error of the set gave the Flames a sideout, and back-to-back Yancey kills tied the set at 21. Tracy Friel had two aces to push the lead to 24-21, and setter Nicole Johnson had a kill to give the Flames a 25-22 win. YSU lost six points in the set on serves as UIC had four aces and the Penguins had two serving errors.

UIC led by as much as 18-10 in the second set, and it held a 24-20 lead before Youngstown State made a charge. The Penguins scored five straight points to go up 25-24, and YSU also had chances to win the set at 26-25 and 28-27. Casey Harris' kill gave the Flames a sideout, and a block by Yancy and YSU attack error gave UIC a three-point run for the win.

Youngstown State scored the first four points of the third set and rolled to a 25-14 win. The Penguins had eight blocks in the third set alone, and they gained separation with an 8-3 run to go up 16-9. They also scored eight of the final 10 points of the set.

The Penguins were then in position to force a fifth set before UIC rallied. The Penguins led 13-6, but UIC scored the next four points and started to chip away. The Flames tied the set at 16 on a block by Yancy and Kara Johnson, and their first lead came at 21-20. Yancy blocked Ryan at 23-23, and she finished the match with back-to-back kills when YSU tied the fourth set at 24-24.

Youngstown State will host Valparaiso on Saturday at 2 p.m.