Volleyball Begins Horizon League Play this Weekend at Beeghly Center

Val Jeffery (Photo by Dustin Livesay)
Val Jeffery (Photo by Dustin Livesay)

The Youngstown State volleyball team will begin Horizon League play this weekend with a pair of home matches at Beeghly Center. The Penguins will host Oakland on Saturday at 4 p.m., and they'll welcome Cleveland State to Beeghly Center on Sunday at 4 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, and live stats will be available on YSUsports.com. The Penguins will host a community night for area high schools on Sunday where YSU's student-athletes will sign autographs after the match.

Recapping Last Week: Youngstown State went 1-3 last week with a four-set win at Robert Morris and three losses at the Flyer Classic. The Penguins topped Robert Morris last Tuesday to win for the fourth straight match and improve their record to 6-5. YSU then faced its toughest competition of the non-conference season in Dayton and lost 3-1 to Southern Illinois and 3-0 to the host Flyers and Loyola Marymount.

YSU in Tough Stretch: The Penguins are in arguably their toughest stretch of the season. Last week they faced Southern Illinois, which was picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference, and Dayton and Loyola Marymount, who have a combined record of 22-4 and are receiving votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 Poll. This week, YSU begins its Horizon League schedule by hosting Oakland and Cleveland State, teams that were picked to finish third and first in the conference preseason poll, respectively. Youngstown State's first league road match next week is at Valparaiso, which was picked to finish second in the conference.

A Historical Look at Vanbeek: As Youngstown State enters Horizon League play, senior middle blocker Lori Vanbeek is having one of the great seasons in program history. Vanbeek is averaging 3.5 kills and 1.08 blocks through 14 matches. Vickie Robinson is the only Penguin in school history to average at least 3.4 kills and 1.0 blocks over an entire season, and she did it in 1999 with 3.97 kills and 1.27 blocks per set. Ruth Boscaljon is the only Penguin in the last 13 years to finish the season averaging at least 3.0 kills and 1.0 blocks.

Jeffery's All-Tournament Teams: Senior setter Val Jeffery was named to the all-tournament team in each of YSU's final three non-conference tournaments – the Tussle in the Triad, the Akron Invitational and the Flyer Classic. Last week in Dayton, Jeffery averaged 8.5 assists per set while also contributing 1.2 kills per set on a .321 attack percentage. For the year, Jeffery ranks fourth in the Horizon League with 0.42 aces per set, and she is fifth in assists per set with 9.62. Last week she moved into fifth place in school history in career assists with 2,714.

Scouting Oakland: Oakland enters Horizon League play with an 8-6 record and winners of four straight matches. The Golden Grizzlies won the Bucknell Tournament last weekend, dropping just one set the entire tournament. Oakland leads the Horizon League and ranks eighth in the country with 2.00 aces per set, and the Golden Grizzlies also average a league-best 2.35 blocks per set. Melissa Deatsch is third in the nation with 0.90 aces per set, and she ranks eighth in the league with 2.90 kills per set.

Scouting Cleveland State: Cleveland State was selected as the Horizon League preseason favorite, and it enters conference play with a mark of 9-3. The Vikings had won five consecutive matches before being swept by Indiana in the championship match of the Hoosier Classic on Saturday. The Vikings pace the Horizon League in hitting percentage (.256), kills per set (14.00) and assists per set (1.73), and they are third in blocks per set (2.24). Setter Gina Kilner is hitting .411 to go along with her 10.56 assists per set, and Grace Kauth averages a league-best 3.93 kills per set.