Volleyball to Host Courtyard Marriott-Canfield Penguin Invitational This Weekend

Sam Brown (left) and Erin Kalahar
Sam Brown (left) and Erin Kalahar

The Youngstown State volleyball team will welcome three teams to Beeghly Center on Friday and Saturday as it hosts the 2017 Penguin Invitational, presented by Courtyard Marriott-Canfield.

There will be three matches on both days of the tournament, and Youngstown State will the first two on Friday as well as the opener on Saturday. YSU's three matches will be against Fort Wayne at 1 p.m. on Friday, Saint Francis U at 4 p.m. on Friday and Akron at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The other matches will be Fort Wayne vs. Akron on Friday at 7 p.m., Saint Francis U vs. Fort Wayne at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Akron vs. Saint Francis U on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Youngstown State's two matches on Friday will be streamed live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, and live stats will be available for the entire weekend through YSUsports.com.

Parking Notice: Due to a busy weekend on campus with classes and various athletic events, including the YSU football game on Saturday, fans are encouraged to visit the YSU football gameday page <<here>> for parking information and tips.

Full Tournament Schedule

Friday, Sept. 8

Saturday, Sept. 9

Recapping Last Week: Youngstown State is coming off a busy stretch in which it played five matches in a seven-day span. The Penguins began last week with a five-set win over Robert Morris at Beeghly Center, which improved their record to 4-0. YSU then went 0-3 at UTEP's Glory Road Invitational last weekend, and it lost 3-0 at home in a quick turnaround against La Salle on Labor Day. 

Reflecting on the 4-0 Start: Youngstown State won its first four matches of the season for the second time in the last four years. The Penguins began the 2017 slate with three straight sweeps of Winthrop, Morehead State and Delaware State, and they added a five-set victory over Robert Morris to improve to 4-0. It was the fourth time in program history that YSU started a season with four consecutive wins. Youngstown State has since lost its last four matches to even its record to 4-4.

Brown Named to All-Tournament Team: Sam Brown was YSU's representative on the Glory Road Invitational all-tournament team. Brown averaged 2.36 kills per set on a .246 attack percentage in the Penguins' three matches in El Paso. She ended the weekend with her best match of the tournament, finishing with 13 kills on a .310 clip while adding an ace and two blocks against UTEP.

Acing the Competition: Youngstown State leads the Horizon League and ranks 29th in the country with 1.79 aces per set. The Penguins have 50 aces through the first 28 sets of the season. Milwaukee ranks second in the conference with 1.7 per set, and no other teams average more than 1.4 per set. Sam Brown ranks second individually in the league with 0.50 per set, and Heather Splinter ranks eighth with 0.39 per set. Brown is two aces away from cracking the top 10 in YSU history in career aces. She has 116, which is also just 12 shy of the top five in program history.

Freshmen Playing Major Role: Youngstown State has three freshmen on its roster who are playing prominent roles on the team. Marketa Plesingrova and Margaux Thompson have both started all eight matches, and Libbie Darling has played in every set as a setter in YSU's 6-2 offense. Thompson ranks third on the team with 2.15 kills per set, and her 2.96 digs per set rank second. Plesingrova averages 2.12 kills per set, and she was the MVP of the Eagle Challenge the first weekend of the season. Darling is averaging a team-high 5.18 assists per set.

Brown Nearing 900 Kills: Senior opposite hitter Sam Brown needs 11 to become the 14th player in Youngstown State history to reach 900 career kills. Brown notched 826 kills in her first three seasons playing on the left side, and she has 63 kills this season while playing primarily at the right pin. While her volume of kills is a tick lower than her previous three seasons at 2.25 kills per set, her hitting percentage of .250 is 74 points higher than any other season in her career.

Scouting Fort Wayne: Fort Wayne will come to Youngstown with a 3-5 record on the season. The Mastodons won three of their first four matches to start the season but have lost their last four contests. Fort Wayne lost in five sets to Horizon League opponent Wright State in its most recent contest on Tuesday. Nicole Rightnowar averages 3.47 kills per set, and Katie Crowe averages 3.07.

Seeing a Familiar Face: There will be a familiar face on the Fort Wayne bench as assistant coach Jasmine Fullove was a member of Mark Hardaway's staff his first two seasons (2012-13) at YSU. Penguins redshirt senior Dana Borsz was a true freshman with Fullove on the bench, and Fullove recruited the group of Sam Brown, Lauren Blanco, Paige Saunders Heather Splinter and Morgan Tippie.

Scouting Saint Francis U: Saint Francis U owns a 3-4 record heading into the weekend. The Red Flash went 2-1 at the Lafayette/Lehigh Tournament over the weekend, earning sweeps over Norfolk State and Lafayette while falling in three sets to Lehigh. The Red Flash's other win was a sweep of Akron the opening weekend of the year. Kelsey Roush leads SFU with 3.33 kills per set on a .227 clip, and Jenna Veres averages 4.93 digs per contest.

Scouting Akron: Akron is 2-4 this season with wins over UMES and Tennessee Tech and losses to Navy, Saint Francis U, Loyola Maryland and La Salle. The Zips were 1-2 last weekend their invitational tournament. Kayla Gwozdz averages an impressive 4.23 kills per set, and she has twice as many attacks as any other player on the roster.