The Youngstown State volleyball team began its preseason practice schedule on Thursday morning with an 18-member roster that includes seven newcomers.
The Penguins are scheduled to practice 12 times in a 10-day stretch between Aug. 8-17, and Thursday was the first of four days where two practice sessions are planned. Youngstown State will settle in to a standard 1-4 p.m. practice slot once the fall semester begins on Aug. 19.
Thursday morning's session was the first practice for the large group of newcomers. There are five true freshmen, a redshirt freshman and a junior college transfer who will all be first-year players in 2019. The group includes freshman middle blockers Aimee Beaupre (Waterdown, Ontario) and Emiy Emich (Columbiana, Ohio), freshman defensive specialists Bailey Ramlow (Toledo, Ohio) and Reilly Seagroves (Cleveland, Ohio), freshman outside hitter Ellie Cox (Mantua , Ohio) and junior outside hitter Alyssa Oswald (Highland Ranch, Colo). Redshirt freshman defensive specialist Alexis Hughes (Berlin Center, Ohio) is in her first fall with the team after joining the program in the spring.
The Penguins return nine letterwinners from last year's team, including four of their top five attackers in Aleah Hughes, Margaux Thompson, Brooklen Pe'a and Erin Kalahar. Aleah Hughes and Thompson were also the top two Penguins in 2018 in digs per set, and starting setter Alexia Byrnes also returns.
Youngstown State's first taste of competition will be in an exhibition match against Duquesne on Aug. 23 at 6 p.m., and the 2019 season opener will be Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. versus Saint Francis U.
Below are bios of YSU's seven newcomers:
High School: Was a two-time Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association (HWCA) all-star who helped St. Mary Catholic qualify for three Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) appearances... Helped her team win a gold medal in 2018 and a bronze medal in 2017 at the AA Ontario Championships... Was a member of the HWCDSB all-star team as a sophomore and a senior, and she was MVP as a senior... Led her team to three city championships and a runner-up finish.
Personal: Parents are Jan and Sandra... Has a brother (Jacob) and a sister (Sarah)... Major is exercise science.
High School: As a senior, earned Honorable Mention All-Ohio accolades at the Division II level... Named First-Team All-Portage Trail Conference in 2017 and 2018... Was a first-team all-district pick as a senior and a second-team honoree as a junior... Named team captain... Led Crestwood in kills (189) and blocks (23) as a junior... Also ranked third on the squad with 193 digs as a junior... Crestwood won the PTC her junior and senior years and won the district title in 2018... Was also a standout in track and field where she was a four-time regional qualifier in the high jump... Placed fourth in the state in the high jump as a senior... Graduated as Crestwood's record holder in the indoor high jump... Was also a second-team all-conference selection in basketball.
Personal: Parents are Gary and Amy... Has four brothers (Stephen, Aaron, Brian and Jake) and a sister (Maddie)... Her stepmother Shannon also attended YSU... Major is environmental science.
High School: Named Third-Team All-Ohio at the Division III level as a senior in leading Crestview to the OVAC Class 3A title and the All-American Conference Blue Division championship... Also named the AAC Player of the Year, First-Team All AAC, First-Team All-OVAC and first-team all-district as a senior... Played in the Ohio All-Star Game... Played 80 sets and registered 233 kills, 63 blocks and 42 aces as a senior... Named first-team all-district as a junior... Earned first-team all-district and All-ITCL accolades as a sophomore as the Rebels claimed ITCL and district titles... Set the school record for career aces with 144... Was the valedictorian of her class.
Personal: Parents are Donald and Gretchen... Has a brother (Ryan) and two sisters (Molly and Abbey)... Majors are accounting and finance... Both of her parents and her grandfather attended Youngstown State.
High School: Named First-Team All-District 1 as a senior and played in the District I Senior Volleyball Classic... Also named First-Team All-Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference... Helped lead Western Reserve to four conference titles.
Personal: Parents are Duane and Kristine... Has two sisters (Aleah and Alyvia)... Her sister Aleah is also a member of the volleyball team... Her mother also attended Youngstown State... Major is early childhood education.
Iowa Western: Played in 28 matches for a Reivers squad that went 38-4 and finished third at the Division I NJCAA National Tournament... The team won the conference and district title... Averaged 2.44 kills on a .215 attack percentage... Added 0.2 aces, 0.56 digs and 0.36 blocks per set... Named to the Dean's List and earned the ICCAC all-conference academic award.
McNeese State: Played in seven matches as a freshman in 2017.
High School: Was a three-year letterwinner and a three-time all-conference pick… Was runner up for the 2016 5A Player of the Year award and led Mountain Vista to a runner-up finish at the 2016 5A state tournament... As a senior, led the state with 87 aces while also totaling 327 kills and 336 digs... Named first-team all-state, all-conference and all-state academic while earning an invitation to the CHSCA All-Star Games as a senior... Named first-team all-conference and first-team all-state academic as a junior... Tabbed second-team all-conference as a sophomore... Finished her career with 730 kills, 505 digs and 111 aces... Played for the Rocky Select Volleyball Club, which had five Junior National appearances in her career.
Personal: Parents are Tom and Janet... Has a brother (Brandon)... Major is marketing.
High School: Served as a team captain at Eastwood... Set two school records as a senior – digs in a match (50) and a season... Named First-Team All-Northern Buckeye Conference as both a junior and senior... Also named first-team all-district... Named libero of the year and played in a senior all-star match... Was an honor roll student... Named an All-American at an AAU national tournament in Orlando, Fla., while playing for the Premier Volleyball Academy.
Personal: Parents are Brad and Amy... Has a brother (Brady) and a sister (Anna)... Major is undecided.
High School: Named First-Team All-District 2 as a senior... Also named to the North Coast League second team and the News Herald first team... Named team MVP three times.
Personal: Parents are David and Darleen... Has a brother (Cole) and a sister (Randi)... Major is fashion merchandising and interiors.