Volleyball Travels to Valparaiso, Wright State this Weekend

YSU Volleyball (Photo by Dustin Livesay)
YSU Volleyball (Photo by Dustin Livesay)

The Youngstown State volleyball team will play its first Horizon League road matches of the season this weekend with contests at Valparaiso and Wright State. The Penguins will play the Crusaders on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, and they'll battle the Raiders on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, and live stats will also be available.

Recapping Last Week: Youngstown State opened Horizon League play last weekend and dropped a pair of home matches against Oakland and Cleveland State. The Penguins lost a five-set battle with the Golden Grizzlies on Saturday, and they were swept by the Vikings on Sunday. YSU had 16 aces in its eight sets last weekend, including nine by Sam Brown. The Penguins also averaged two blocks per set, and Sarah Varcolla averaged a team-best 1.25 blocks.

High Aces Average: Youngstown State averaged two aces per set in its first two Horizon League matches last weekend. That brought its season average up to 1.65 per set, which ranks second in the Horizon League. If the Penguins can maintain that pace for the remainder of the season, it would be their most aces per set since 2001. Individually, YSU has four players ranking in the top seven in the Horizon League in aces per set. Val Jeffery is third at 0.40 per set, Sam Brown is fourth (0.33), Aleah Hughes is fifth (0.33) and Sarah Varcolla is seventh (0.30). Brown had nine aces in eight sets last weekend to start conference play.

Hughes Returns from Injury: YSU got a lift from Aleah Hughes' return to the lineup last weekend after a two-week, six-match injury absence. Hughes played in all eight sets last weekend and finished with eight kills on 24 attempts and a .167 attack percentage. She added eight digs from her post on the outside. The redshirt freshman is averaging 1.56 kills and 2.49 digs per set in 10 matches this season.

Kalahar Breaks Into Lineup: Freshman outside hitter Erin Kalahar has played in every set over YSU's last three matches after not playing in any of the Penguins' first 13 matches. Originally a redshirt candidate, Kalahar has averaged 1.18 kills and 0.36 blocks per set since moving into the lineup. She had a career-high nine kills in 20 attempts in her first start against Oakland on Sept. 24.

Previewing Valparaiso: Valparaiso is 7-9 overall and 1-1 in Horizon League play. The Crusaders had last six straight matches before a five-set victory at UIC last Saturday. Valparaiso has played its last nine matches without senior outside hitter Emily Campbell, a two-time All-Horizon League selection and the conference's co-Player of the Year in 2014. With Campbell out, Katherine Carlson is averaging a team-high 2.69 kills per set. The Crusaders lead the Horizon League with 17.15 digs per set, and libero Morganne Longoria is second individually in the conference with 4.77 per contest.

Previewing Wright State: Wright State heads into the weekend with a 6-9 overall record and a 1-1 mark in Horizon League play. The Raiders beat UIC in four sets and were swept at Milwaukee last weekend to start its conference schedule. Katie Klusman is WSU's top attacker with 3.51 kills per set, the third-most in the Horizon League, and Megan Hopkins ranks second in the conference with 1.24 blocks per set. Libero Jessie Thornton is averaging a league-leading 5.12 digs per set. As a team, the Raiders rank second in the Horizon League in blocks (2.22) and digs (16.55) per set.