Volleyball Travels to NKU, Hosts UIC on Senior Day This Week

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

The Youngstown State volleyball team begins the final stretch of the 2018 season this week as it plays a pair of Horizon League contests. The Penguins will play at Northern Kentucky on Halloween at 6 p.m., and they'll return to Beeghly Center for the home finale on Sunday at 2 p.m. Both matches will be streamed live on ESPN3, and live stats will be available through YSUsports.com.

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Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State is 7-18 overall and 1-11 in Horizon League play as it enters the final two weeks of the season. Wednesday's match against Northern Kentucky will be YSU's first of four contests over the final 11 days of the 2018 campaign.
  • 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 19th in the country with 17.63 digs per set, which is 2.99 digs more than it averaged in 2017. YSU hasn't averaged more than 15.5 digs per set since sets were taken from 30 points down to 25 prior to the 2008 season.
  • Aleah Hughes and Margaux Thompson have combined for 1,612 of YSU's 3,547 attacks, which equates to 45.4 percent. The duo has also accounted for 482 out of 1,078 kills (44.7 percent) and 663 of 1,587 digs (41.8 percent).
  • Hughes and Northern Kentucky's Haley Libs are the only two players who rank among the Horizon League's top 10 in both kills and digs per set. Hughes sits eighth in with 2.77 kills per set, and she ranks ninth with 3.76 digs per set.
  • Thompson is just out of the top 10 in the Horizon League in kills and digs per set. Her 2.65 kills per set are 0.02 behind 10th place, and her 3.69 digs per set rank her 0.06 outside the top 10.
  • Hughes is the only player in the conference to lead her team in both kills and digs per set. She's vying to become the first Penguin since 2003 to lead the squad in both categories.
  • Sarah Varcolla ranks seventh in school history with 376 blocks, and she is 29 shy of fifth place. She has 93 blocks this season, and she would become just the third Penguin to notch three straight 100-block seasons if she can get seven more in 2018. Varcolla is averaging 1.25 blocks per set since the start of Horizon League play, which ranks fifth in the conference
  • Redshirt sophomore Reis Zandier is averaging 3.29 digs per set and is nine digs from reaching 200 for the season. She entered 2018 with 16 digs in her career.
  • 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.

Recapping Last Week

  • Youngstown State went 0-2 at home last weekend, falling 3-0 to Green Bay and 3-1 to Milwaukee. The Penguins won the first set against the Panthers and lost the third 25-23.
  • Margaux Thompson had double-doubles in both matches last weekend to push her double-double streak to three. She had 12 kills and 13 digs in the three-setter versus the Phoenix, and she followed that up with 13 kills and 16 digs against Milwaukee.
  • Aleah Hughes and Alexia Byrnes also had double-doubles in the match against Milwaukee. Hughes posted 12 kills and 16 digs, and Byrnes finished with 42 assists and 11 digs.
  • The 42 assists by Byrnes were the most by a Penguin during Horizon League play and the second-most for a match this season.
  • YSU hit .202 as a team against Green Bay, which was its best mark since Sept. 8.
  • The Penguins averaged 1.86 blocks per set last weekend, and they have 22 blocks as a team over their last 12 sets.

Scouting Opponents

  • Northern Kentucky: NKU enters the week in a tie for fourth place in the Horizon League standings. The Norse are 4-1 at home this season and are coming off victories over IUPUI and Wright State last weekend at NKU. Haley Libs is a conference Player-of-the-Year candidate as she ranks second in the conference with 4.13 kills per set and eighth with 3.86 digs per set. NKU leads the country with 19.86 digs per set, and it also paces the league in hitting percentage, kills per set and assists per set.
  • UIC: UIC is third in the conference standings with an 8-4 mark despite dropping a pair of five-set road matches last weekend. The Flames rank in the top three in the league in hitting percentage, kills, assists, aces and blocks. In Horizon League matches, Kiera James is averaging a conference-best 4.30 kills per set.

Next Week

  • Youngstown State will wrap up the 2018 season with road matches at IUPUI and Wright State. The Penguins will play at IUPUI on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m., and they'll play at Wright State on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m.