2018 Volleyball Season In Review

YSU Volleyball (Photo by Rob Hayes)
YSU Volleyball (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Scott Completes First Season

  • The Penguins completed their first season under head coach Aline Scott and assistants Calaeb Campbell and Gabe Schmidt in 2018. YSU won six of its first nine matches of the season and won the Bucknell Invitational tournament in the first weekend of the campaign. The Penguins beat Saint Peter's, NJIT and Bucknell at the tournament, and they went on to also defeat UNLV, Duquesne and George Mason in non-conference play. The win over George Mason was the 500th in program history.

Four Named to All-Tournament Teams

Hughes, Kalahar Named to Horizon League All-Academic Team

  • For the first time since the 2014 season and for just the second time in program history, two YSU volleyball players earned academic all-conference honors. Junior Aleah Hughes, who holds a 3.89 GPA as an accounting major, joined junior Erin Kalahar, a business administration major with a 4.0 GPA, on the team.

Hughes Makes Impact In Return

  • Junior Aleah Hughes returned after a year away from volleyball and made a major impact on the program. She led the team with 2.70 kills and 3.87 digs per set, becoming the first Penguin to lead the team in both kills and digs per set since Colleen Royer in 2003. Hughes was the only player in the Horizon League to lead her team in both kills and digs per set, and she was also the only player it the conference to rank in the top 10 in both categories.

Hughes Posts 20/20 Match at Kent State

  • One of the highlights of Hughes' season was when she posted 20 kills and 21 digs in a four-set match at Kent State on Aug. 28. It was the first time that a Penguin registered at least 20 kills and 20 digs in a match since Jessica Fraley did it in 2007.

Varcolla Finishes Historical Career

  • Senior Sarah Varcolla posted another solid year to finish off a memorable career at YSU. She finished with 111 total blocks to become just the fourth Penguin to post 100 blocks in three consecutive seasons. She averaged more than one block per set for the third straight season, and her 0.61 digs per set was her highest since her freshman year. She finished her career with 394 total blocks, which was the seventh-most in school history. Her 318 block assists ranked sixth on the all-time chart, and her 76 solo blocks ranked seventh.

Team Dig Total Skyrockets

  • Youngstown State averaged 17.70 digs per set in 2018, and six different Penguins averaged at least 2.2 digs individually. YSU ranked fifth in the Horizon League in digs per set, and, heading into the NCAA tournament, the Penguins had the 20th-best digs per set average in the country. YSU averaged just 14.64 digs per set, more than three digs per set less, in 2017, and the Penguins hadn't averaged more than 15.5 digs since 2007. That was the final season that sets went to 30 points instead of 25.

Thompson Through Two Years

  • Margaux Thompson surpassed 240 kills for the second straight season and posted 248 over 29 matches. She set a new career high with 3.56 digs per set and 360 total digs. Through two seasons, her career totals are 495 kills and 672 digs. Only two Penguins (Jill Raslevich and Erika West) have posted more digs in their first two years than Thompson, and five have posted more kills (Ruth Boscaljon, Sam Brown, Missy Hundelt, Vickie Robinson and Lori Vanbeek).

Individual Player Notes

  • Redshirt freshman setter Alexia Byrnes ranked sixth in the Horizon League with 6.63 assists per set, and she shared setting duties in the 6-2 offense with junior Giovanna Kuntze.
  • Sarah Varcolla finished seventh in the Horizon League with 1.07 blocks per set. She picked up her pace to 1.26 blocks per set against league opponents, which was the third-best average in the conference.     
  • Margaux Thompson finished the season with 15 double-doubles, Aleah Hughes had 12, Giovanna Kuntze had 11 and Alexia Byrnes had nine. Byrnes was one kill away from a triple-double against NJIT as she finished with nine kills, 37 assists and 23 digs.
  • Reis Zandier posted 234 digs and averaged 3.30 digs per set as the primary libero throughout the season. She entered 2018 with 16 digs in her career.
  • Erin Kalahar set new career highs with 1.56 kills per set, a .160 attack percentage and 0.59 digs per set.