The Youngstown State volleyball team battled UIC on Senior Day before falling in four sets in the 2018 Beeghly Center finale on Sunday. The set scores were 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14.
The Penguins, who were swept by the Flames earlier this season, split a pair of two-point sets and held a 12-9 lead in the third this time. YSU, though, couldn't keep up with the Flames offensively over the final two sets. Both teams had 30 kills in the first two sets, but UIC had a 34-15 edge over the final two sets.
Margaux Thompson led the Penguins with 10 kills and 11 digs, and Aleah Hughes posted 17 digs. Senior Morgan Tippie tied her season high with eight kills in her final home match, and fellow senior Sarah Varcolla registered six kills and five blocks. Varcolla became just the fourth Penguin in history to reach 100 blocks in three straight seasons.
Paola Santiago had 14 kills, and Ali Witt added 12 on a.500 attack percentage to lead UIC.
The Penguins stayed within four throughout the first set, and it battled to get within one after trailing 23-20. Kills by Hughes and Thompson made the score 24-23, but the Penguins had their third serving error of the set after getting a side out.
UIC then scored nine straight points behind Manuela Conte's serve to take a 9-2 lead early in the second set. The margin was still seven at 16-9, but YSU started to chip away and got within three at 17-14 on an Erin Kalahar kill. YSU got within 20-19 on a block by Kalahar and Booklen Pe'a, and it tied the score at 21 on an error by Santiago. UIC scored the next two points, but YSU closed out the set by scoring the final four points. Tippie's kill gave the Penguins a side out, and she teamed up with Kalahar for a block that tied the score. Thompson's kill made it 24-23, and UIC had an attack error on set point.
Youngstown State then four three-point leads in the third set as it looked to go ahead 2-1 in the match, but UIC rallied. A Thompson kill put YSU up 7-4, and the lead was three for the final time at 12-9. That's when UIC scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 19-14 lead. Back-to-back blocks by Varcolla helped YSU get within two at 19-17, but that's as close as the score would get.
UIC went on to take a 13-6 lead in the fourth set, and YSU got no closer than six.
Youngstown State has a pair of road matches next week as they'll finish out the 2018 season. The Penguins will play at IUPUI on Friday, and they'll play at Wright State on Saturday.