Volleyball Hosts Cleveland State, Oakland to Start Four-Match Homestand

Margaux Thompson (Photo by Dustin Livesay)
Margaux Thompson (Photo by Dustin Livesay)

The Youngstown State volleyball team will begin a four-match homestand and start the second half of Horizon League play as it hosts Cleveland State and Oakland this weekend. The Penguins will welcome the Vikings on Friday at 6 p.m., and they'll play the Golden Grizzlies on Saturday at 4 p.m. Live video of Friday evening's match will be streamed live on ESPN+, and live stats of both matches will be available through YSUsports.com.

Promotions and Parking Advisory

  • There will be a water bottle giveaway at Friday's match against Cleveland State, and fans at Saturday's match versus Oakland will receive a coupon for a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich.
  • Parking will be fuller than normal on Saturday due to the YSU football game that begins at 6 p.m. Fans attending the volleyball match are encouraged to park in the M-60 Deck on Fifth Avenue.
  • Parking Information
  • Visitors Guide

Recapping Last Week

  • Youngstown State was swept in a pair of road matches last week on its annual Wisconsin trip. The Penguins fell 25-15, 25-13, 25-21 at Milwaukee on Friday, and they lost 25-19, 25-13, 25-16 at Green Bay on Saturday.
  • Milwaukee hit .316 against the Penguins, and YSU hit negative over the first two sets. Youngstown State made a lineup change to a 6-2 offense and put Margaux Thompson on the left side for the third set, and it hit .333. YSU had 13 kills with no errors in 39 attempts.
  • Green Bay, which was coming off a five-set thriller on Friday in a win over Cleveland State, kept its momentum and hit .292 to beat YSU on Saturday. Taylor Wolf had a match-high 14 kills for Green Bay. Sarah Varcolla had a solid match for the Penguins with eight kills, an ace and three blocks, and Aleah Hughes notched 11 digs. YSU led 18-17 in the opening set and trailed just 20-16 in the third before Green Bay rallies.
  • Ashley Starzyk made her collegiate debut after sitting out the first 19 matches of the season. The freshman middle blocker had two attacks in the second set.
  • Setter Alexia Byrnes returned to the lineup in the second set against Milwaukee, and she went on to play at Green Bay on Saturday. Byrnes finished with five assists against the Panthers, and she had six assists in two sets versus the Phoenix. Byrnes had missed eight matches over the previous month with mononucleosis. She ranked among the Horizon League leaders with 7.53 assists per set through Sept. 11.
  • Thompson's move back to the left side came after she had played the previous two matches as the libero. She was the starting libero against Milwaukee but switched for the third set, and she played on the outside all three sets against Green Bay.
  • Aleah Hughes started at libero against Green Bay but switched to outside hitter for the third set.

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State is 7-14 overall and 1-7 in Horizon League play as it heads to Wisconsin this week. The Penguins played their first 15 matches of the season and five of their first eight conference contests on the road. YSU begins season-long four-match homestand on Friday, and it will play five of its next six contests at Beeghly Center.
  • The Penguins have already matched their conference win total from last season, and they are one win shy of tying their overall win total. YSU has replaced a four-year starter and six-rotation player, its starting libero from the past two seasons and its starting setter from last year.
  • YSU won its first three matches of the campaign and was 5-2 after impressive wins over UNLV and Duquesne at the Duquesne Invitational on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
  • Youngstown State ranks 10th in the country with 18.25 digs per set, which is 3.61 more than it averaged in 2017 and the most in school history since 1999. YSU averaged 14.64 digs per set in 2017, and it hasn't averaged more than 15 digs per set since 2008. Three Horizon League teams actually rank above YSU in the national digs rankings as Northern Kentucky, IUPUI and Cleveland State occupy three of the top six spots in the country.
  • YSU is also fifth nationally with 39.64 team attacks per set. Aleah Hughes and Margaux Thompson have combined for 44.9 percent of the team's total attacks. They have 667 apiece and 1,334 of YSU's 2,973.
  • Hughes and Northern Kentucky's Haley Libs are the only two players who rank among the Horizon League's top 10 in kills and digs per set. Hughes sits sixth with 2.89 kills per set, and she's seventh with 3.93 kills per set. Hughes has started at libero three times this season, which has hurt her kills average.
  • Margaux Thompson is just outside the top 10 in kills per set with 2.63 – 10th place is 2.66. Thompson ranks ninth with 3.88 digs per set, and, like Hughes, she has also seen time recently at libero.
  • If Hughes can pick up her pace a bit, she'll finish with a historically-significant season at YSU. The Penguins have had only two players average at least three kills and four digs per set in the same season, and the last time it happened was in 1993.
  • Hughes leads YSU in both kills and digs per set, and she's vying to become the first Penguin since 2003 to lead in both categories.
  • Sarah Varcolla ranks ninth in school history with 358 career blocks, and she is 47 blocks shy of cracking the top five. She has picked it up in conference play with an average of 1.28 blocks per set. That's the fifth-best average in the league since conference play began. Varcolla also ranks 18th in program history with 877 career kills, and she's 12th in career aces with 116.
  • Aline Scott is in her first season as YSU's head coach. She is the 10th head coach in program history, and she is a head coach at the Division I level for the first time in her career. She spent eight previous seasons coaching in Ohio, the previous three as the head coach at Division III Hiram and five as an assistant at Akron.

Scouting Opponents

  • Cleveland State: Cleveland State won its first six Horizon League matches but lost a pair of five-set road matches last week to drop to 6-2. The Vikings had a 2-0 set lead in a battle for first place at Cleveland State on Friday but fell, then they rallied from a 2-0 deficit at UIC on Saturday but ended up losing in five sets. Cleveland State leads the league with 2.82 blocks per set, and it ranks fourth in the country in opponents' hitting percentage at .143. Hannah Greene, Trinniti Hall and Rachel Stover are the top three individual blockers in the Horizon League, and Sara Skeens ranks seventh in the conference with 2.87 kills per set.
  • Oakland: Oakland will come to Youngstown with a 6-13 overall record and 2-6 mark in Horizon League play. For the second time this season, the Golden Grizzlies will be idle the day before playing YSU while the Penguins play Cleveland State. Oakland is second in the conference with 2.31 blocks per set, and Krysteena Davis ranks fourth individually with 1.13 blocks per set. Jamie Walling ranks fifth in the league with 2.92 kills per set.

Next Week

  • Youngstown State will continue its four-match homestand next weekend as it hosts two more Horizon League matches. The Penguins will play league-leading Green Bay on Friday at 6 p.m., and they'll host Milwaukee on Saturday at 4 p.m.