Volleyball Starts Horizon League Slate This Weekend

Morgan Tippie (Photo by Regina Thompson)
Morgan Tippie (Photo by Regina Thompson)

The Youngstown State volleyball team will begin its 17th season in the Horizon League this weekend as it opens the conference slate at UIC and Green Bay. The Penguins will play at UIC on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and they'll play at Green Bay on Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern. The match against UIC will be broadcast on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, and Saturday's match will be broadcast in Green Bay on Spectrum Sports. Live stats links will be available for both matches on YSUsports.com.

Scouting Report: Youngstown State enters Horizon League play with an even 7-7 record, which ranks fourth in the conference. The Penguins began the season with four straight wins for their second 4-0 start in the last four years. YSU then seven of its next eight contests before finishing the non-league schedule with consecutive wins over Tennessee Tech and Toledo last weekend. Youngstown State leads the conference and ranks 32nd in the nation in aces per set. Sarah Varcolla leads the Penguins with 2.79 kills and 1.04 blocks per set, and YSU has three freshmen who have played prominent roles with the team.

Recapping Last Week: YSU finished non-conference play with a confidence-building weekend at the Toledo Blue/Golf Invitational. The Penguins were swept by New Mexico in the opening match of the weekend, but they bounced back to sweep Tennessee Tech and outlast Toledo in five sets to finish with a 2-1 mark. Sarah Varcolla was named to the all-tournament team as she averaged 3.09 kills on a .325 attack percentage while also contributing 1.18 blocks per set. She set new career highs with 20 kills and 48 attempts in the win over Toledo. Lauren Blanco averaged 4.73 digs per set and finished with 24 digs in the three-set sweep of Tennessee Tech. That was the second-highest total by a Penguin in a three-set match since 2001.

Acing the Competition: Youngstown State leads the Horizon League and ranks 32nd in the country with 1.65 aces per set. The Penguins have 86 aces in 14 matches and 52 sets. Sam Brown is the team amd conference leader with 25 aces (0.48 per set), and Sarah Varcolla ranks second with 13 (0.25 per set). Brown has moved into the top 10 in program history with 127 career aces. She needs two more aces to crack the top five, and the school record is 165 by Lori Longo (1986-89).

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 combined for 24 starts in YSU's first 14 matches, and Libbie Darling has played in all 52 sets as a setter in YSU's 6-2 offense. Thompson ranks second on the team with 2.37 kills per set and 3.33 digs per set while carrying a large load in serve receive. Plesingrova averages 2.24 kills per set, which ranks third on the squad, and Darling is averaging a team-high 5.08 assists per set.

Thompson's Memorable Match vs. Saint Francis U: Freshman Margaux Thompson showcased her offense and defense in YSU's five-set win over Saint Francis U on Sept. 8 with 18 kills and 24 digs. Thompson became just the third Penguin since 2001 to post at least 18 kills and 24 digs in a match, joining Missy Hundelt in 2013 and Colleen Royer in 2003. Notably, Thompson's .356 attack percentage was the highest of the trio. Thompson also became just the sixth YSU freshman since 2001 to post at least 18 kills in a match.

Penguins with at least 18 kills and 24 digs in a match since 2001

  • Margaux Thompson – 18 kills & 24 digs vs. Saint Francis U – 9/8/17
  • Missy Hundelt – 18 kills & 30 digs vs. Iowa – 8/31/13
  • Colleen Royer – 24 kills & 25 digs at Wright State – 10/10/03

YSU Freshmen with 18 kills in a match since 2001

  • Margaux Thompson – once in 2017
  • Lexi Egler – once in 2011
  • Missy Hundelt – once in 2010
  • Ruth Boscaljon – five times in 2006
  • Jessica Fraley – three times in 2004
  • Nickole Kennedy – twice in 2002

Brown Eyes 1,000 Kills: Senior opposite hitter Sam Brown became the 14th player in Youngstown State history to record 900 career kills earlier this season. She notched 826 kills in her first three seasons playing on the left side, and she has 113 kills this season while playing primarily at the right pin. She has 939 career kills, needing 61 to become the 13th Penguin to get to 1,000. While her volume of kills is a tick lower than her previous three seasons at 2.17 kills per set, her hitting percentage of .236 is 60 points higher than any other season in her career.