Penguins Begin Four-Match Week Tuesday vs. Kent State in Beeghly Center

Bailey Ramlow (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Bailey Ramlow (Photo by Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State volleyball team begins a busy week by hosting Kent State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Beeghly Center. The Penguins will also play three matches at the Towson Invitational over the weekend, taking on Towson at 1 p.m. and Albany at 4 p.m. on Friday and Coastal Carolina at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Tuesday's match against the Golden Flashes will be streamed live on ESPN+, and the three matches at the Towson Invitational will be broadcast on FloVolleyball.TV. Live stats for all four matches will be available through links on YSUsports.com.

Fan Information and Promotions

  • Parking Information
  • Visitors Guide
  • There will be a YSU Volleyball t-shirt giveaway for the first 150 fans in attendance at Tuesday's match against Kent State. There will also be a team poster giveaway, and the team will sign autographs after the match.

Recapping Last Week

  • Youngstown State beat Niagara in four sets to improve its season record to 4-0, but the Penguins were swept by Cornell and Hartford to conclude the Cornell Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
  • Sophomore setter Alexia Byrnes was YSU's selection on the all-tournament team at Cornell. The Lisle, Ill., native averaged eight assists per set while adding 3.4 digs and 0.9 kills per set. She was also an all-tournament team pick at the season-opening Penguin Classic in Youngstown.
  • Senior outside hitter Aleah Hughes led YSU with 2.6 kills per set while tying with Brooklen Pe'a for the team lead with 3.7 digs per set. Pe'a was the MVP of the Penguin Classsic, while Hughes was an all-tournament honoree.
  • YSU led the Horizon League with a .243 attack percentage the opening weekend, but the Penguins were slowed offensively in Ithica, N.Y., with a .122 attack percentage. Opponents averaged 12.6 kills per set to YSU's 9.9. Youngstown State averaged 13.36 kills per set in its three wins at the Penguin Classic.
  • Youngstown State had 87 kills in the four-set win over Niagara on Friday. That was the fifth-highest mark for a four-set match since 2010.

Match-By-Match Summary

  • Match 1 vs. Niagara | W, 3-1 (25-16, 25-20, 17-25, 25-14) | Recap | Box Score
  • Match 2 vs. Cornell | L, 0-3 (16-25, 19-25, 21-25) | Recap | Box Score
  • Match 3 vs. Hartford | L, 0-3 (14-25, 21-25, 17-25) | Recap | Box Score

Previewing the Opponents

Scouting Kent State

  • Kent State, like YSU, enters this week with a 4-2 mark. Kent State went 2-1 in each of its first two tournaments, the Charlotte Invitational and the Golden Flashes Classic. Kent State had a five-set win over Valparaiso and a four-set victory over Idaho State before losing in four sets to Robert Morris.
  • Kent State has six players averaging at least two kills per set, and the Golden Flashes average a Mid-American Conference-leading 14.43 kills per set as a team. Taylor Heberle averages 3.22 kills per set over nine sets, and Danie Tyson averages 2.43 kills per set with an impressive .360 attack percentage. Defensively, Erin Gardner leads the MAC with 6.78 digs per set.
  • Kent State was 13-18 overall and 6-10 in conference play last season. The Golden Flashes were picked to finish fifth in the MAC East in the conference preseason poll.

Scouting Towson

  • Towson will boast a 5-1 record heading into its tournament, and four of those five wins have been in straight sets. The Tigers won all nine sets at the season-opening Morgan State Invitational, and they beat Virginia (3-1) and Princeton (3-0) last weekend at the Rutgers Invitational.
  • The Tigers are hitting an impressive .253 as a team, and opponents have posted just a .126 attack percentage. Lydia Wiers (.447) and Silvia Grassini (.403) rank first and third in the Colonial Athletic Association in attack percentage, and Olivia Finckel averages 3.53 kills per set.
  • Towson was picked to finish fourth in the CAA preseason poll, and Emily Jerome and Grassini were among honorable mention selections on the preseason all-conference team.

Scouting Albany

  • UAlbany is 1-5 through the first two weeks with its win begin a four-setter over Abilene Christian on Aug. 30. The Great Danes were swept in all three matches at the UCF Challenge against UCF, South Carolina and Kansas.
  • Akuabata Okenwa leads the Great Danes with 3.32 kills per set on a .275 attack percentage. Danielle Tedesco averages 2.14 kills and a team-best 0.95 blocks per set.
  • The Great Danes were picked to finish second in the America East Preseason Coaches Poll. UAlbany was 16-11 overall and 9-3 in AE play in 2018.

Scouting Coastal Carolina

  • Coastal Carolina is 6-0 with five sweeps through the first two weekends of the season. The Chanticleers swept South Carolina State and Charleston Southern and topped East Tennessee State in five sets last weekend at the Coastal Carolina Classic.
  • Anett Nemeth averages 3.64 kills per set on a .329 attack percentage, and Mariia Levanova averages 3.22 kills per set. Nemeth also has nine aces in 11 sets played. Four Chanticleers average more than a block per set.
  • The Chanticleers were the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt East. Nemeth and Kyla Manning were preseason all-conference selections.

Up Next

Youngstown State will complete its non-conference schedule by hosting the YSU Red & White Invitational next weekend. On Friday, Sept. 20, the Penguins will host Robert Morris at 1:30 p.m. and Eastern Illinois at 6:30 p.m. YSU will conclude the tournament against Central Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 2 p.m.

News and Notes

Milestones Achieved Last Week

  • Alexia Byrnes recorded the 600th assist of her career in the win over Niagara. Byrnes ranks 14th in program history with 675 career assists.
  • Valor Haggerty reached 100 total blocks in her career.
  • Margaux Thompson upped her career digs total to 721.

Milestone Watch

  • Aleah Hughes needs 30 digs to reach 700 for her career
  • Erin Kalahar is 14 kills shy of 300 in her career
  • Brooklen Pe'a is two kills away from reaching 200 in her career

Recent Success in Non-Conference Play

  • Youngstown State has done well getting off to solid starts in non-conference play in recent years. The Penguins have won at least six non-conference matches in seven straight seasons, including winning six in 2018.
  • The Penguins won six of their first nine matches of the season and went unbeaten in the first weekend at the Bucknell Invitational. This is the third straight season that Youngstown State won its first three matches.

Home Heavy Schedule

  • Youngstown State is scheduled to play a school-record 15 home matches in 2019. The previous high was 13 in 2013 and 1990.
  • In addition to playing all eight Horizon League teams at Beeghly Center, YSU will have six home matches as part of two tournaments and another non-conference contest against Kent State in 2019. Youngstown State is hosting two non-conference tournaments for the first time in program history in 2019. YSU last hosted a similar four-team tournament in 2017.

Pe'a Off to Great Start in 2019

  • Sophomore pin hitter Brooklen Pe'a is off to a solid start in her first campaign as a six-rotation player for the Penguins. The Bountiful, Utah, native is averaging 2.86 kills, 3.33 digs and 0.57 blocks per set, which each rank second on the team, through the first six matches.
  • Pe’a had an outstanding first weekend of the season when she averaged 3.64 kills on a .345 attack percentage and 3.0 digs to be named the MVP of the Penguin Classic. She notched her first two career double-doubles at the tournament and had at least 11 kills and nine digs in all three matches.
  • Pe’a has already established new single-match highs for her career with 15 kills against Bucknell and 22 digs versus Niagara.

Hughes Was Impact Player In Return

  • Aleah Hughes returned after a year away from volleyball and made a major impact on the program in 2018. 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.
  • 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.
  • Hughes is averaging team highs of 3.14 kills and 3.62 digs per set through the first six matches of 2019.

Thompson's Impressive First Two Years

  • Outside hitter Margaux Thompson entered her junior year with career totals of 495 kills and 672 digs. Only two Penguins (Jill Raslevich and Erika West) had more digs in their first two years, and just five (Ruth Boscaljon, Sam Brown, Missy Hundelt, Vickie Robinson and Lori Vanbeek) had more kills than Thompson.
  • Thompson posted 247 kills and 312 digs as a freshman in 2017, and she followed that up with 248 kills and 360 digs in 2018. She led YSU with 15 double-doubles last season, and 10 of those came in 13 non-conference matches.
  • Thompson has played primarily in a defensive role the first two weekends as she continues to rehabilitate an injury. She is averaging 2.33 digs and 0.86 kills per set through six matches.

Penguins Earn Academic Awards in 2018

  • YSU earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2018-19 season. It was the sixth straight season that the Penguins earned the award for having at least a 3.3 GP. The Penguins posted an impressive 3.551 team GPA in the 2018-19 academic year.
  • Individually, Aleah Hughes and Erin Kalahar were both named to the Horizon League All-Academic Team. It was the first time since 2014 and just the second time in program history that the Penguins had two honorees on the volleyball academic all-conference team.