Volleyball Set for First Horizon League Home Matches This Weekend

Aleah Hughes (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Aleah Hughes (Photo by Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State volleyball team will try to defend its home court this weekend as it welcomes UIC and Milwaukee to Beeghly Center to begin October. The Penguins will host the Flames on Friday at 6 p.m. and the Panthers on Saturday at 2 p.m. in their first two home Horizon League contests of the campaign.

Friday's match against UIC will be streamed live on ESPN3, and Saturday's match versus Milwaukee will be on ESPN+. Live stats for both matches will be available through YSUsports.com.

Fan Information and Promotions

  • Parking Information
  • Visitors Guide
  • There will be a YSU water bottle giveaway for the first 150 fans in attendance at Friday's match against UIC, courtesy of Compco Industries, Mercy Health and 21 WFMJ
  • Saturday's match will be the program's breast cancer awareness match to support the Side-Out Foundation. The team is calling the event "Play Big for a Cure", and there will be t-shirts and wristbands for sale with proceeds going to the Side-Out Foundation. Cancer survivors in attendance will be recognized during the second and third sets.

Donate to YSU's Side-out Foundation Campaign

Recapping Last Week

Youngstown State dropped two road matches last weekend as it opened Horizon League play with 3-0 losses at Northern Kentucky and Wright State. NKU's aggressive serve kept the Penguins out of system for most of the match, and the Norse committed just six attack errors in 85 attempts last Friday. YSU was more competitive with Wright State, which won for the 12th straight match, and got nine kills from both Alexia Byrnes and Brooklen Pe'a. Byrnes added 20 assists and seven digs.

Match-By-Match Summary

  • Match 1 at Northern Kentucky | L, 0-3 (13-25, 10-25, 13-25) | Recap | Box Score
  • Match 2 at Wright State | L, 0-3 (22-25, 22-25, 14-25) | Recap | Box Score

Previewing Opponents

UIC

  • UIC is 11-5 this season but will be looking to get back on track after dropping three of its last four matches. The Flames lost a five-setter to Green Bay last Friday, and they were swept by Milwaukee on Saturday in Chicago. UIC is 3-0 in road matches this season, and the Flames swept Eastern Illinois and Central Michigan, teams that Youngstown State split against at the YSU Red & White Invitational two weeks ago.
  • UIC ranks in the top half of the Horizon League in most statistical categories, and the Flames lead the conference in blocks with 2.73 per set. Michelle Glover is the top individual blocker in the league with 1.42 blocks per set, and she is one of five UIC players averaging at least 2.1 kills per set. Paola Santiago is the top attacker with 2.60 kills per set, and Velina Minkova averages a team-best 4.18 digs per set.
  • UIC was picked to finish third in the Horizon League preseason poll and received one vote fewer than second-place Northern Kentucky. The Flames were 10-6 in conference play and finished fourth in 2018.

Milwaukee

  • Milwaukee is off to its best start in 20 years and enters the weekend boasting a 15-1 record, which is tied for the second-best mark in the country. The Panthers have won 13 straight matches since losing 3-2 to Eastern Washington on Sept. 6.
  • The Panthers are one of the top offensive teams in the country, ranking fourth in Division I with 13.76 assists per set and eighth with 14.59 kills per set. UWM, which runs a 6-2 offense, also paces the Horizon League with a .252 attack percentage.
  • Ari Miller leads Milwaukee offensively with 2.98 kills per set on a .317 attack percentage, and she, Jenna Miller and Carmen Heilemann all rank in the top five in the conference in attack percentage. Libero Jess Grabowski averages an impressive 5.24 digs per set, which ranks second in the league.

Up Next

Youngstown State has two more Horizon League matches in an odd scheduling week next week. The Penguins will travel to Indianapolis on Tuesday for a match at IUPUI on Wednesday evening for the first match of the week. YSU will then return home to face Green Bay on Friday at 6 p.m. as part of Homecoming weekend. Volleyball alumni interested in attending YSU's Homecoming match should RSVP to assistant coach McKenzie Reese at mreese01@student.ysu.edu.

News & Notes

Milestones Achieved Last Week:

Milestones Within Reach:

  • Alexia Byrnes needs 81 assists to reach 1,000 in her career. She would become the 12th player in program history to reach 1,000.
  • Valor Haggerty needs six kills to reach 200 in her career.
  • Aleah Hughes is 29 digs shy of 800 in her career.
  • Erin Kalahar is five blocks shy of 150 in her career.
  • Brooklen Pe'a is 31 kills from 300 in her career. She is also seven kills shy of last season's total.
  • Margaux Thompson is 32 digs from 900 in her career.

Home Success: YSU is hoping that the success it experienced at Beeghly Center during non-conference play carries over to its Horizon League slate. The Penguins are 5-2 on their home floor, which is good news since YSU is scheduled to play a school-record 15 home matches in 2019. Youngstown State had actually struggled at home in recent years with four wins combined in the 2016-18 seasons at Beeghly Center.

Byrnes on the Attack: Sophomore setter Alexia Byrnes has attacked more often and more effectively compared to her freshman season. Byrnes has 68 kills on 187 attempts this season after posting 42 kills on 140 attempts in 2018. She has also increased her attack percentage from .186 to .241. Recently at times, Byrnes has stayed in the front row as an attacker as YSU has switched to a 6-2 offense situationally.

Thompson Digging Libero Role: Junior Margaux Thompson was an outside hitter for her first two seasons, but she's excelling in the libero position in 2019. Since becoming the Penguins' starting libero on Sept. 10, she is averaging an impressive 4.74 digs per set. She has recorded at least 14 digs in seven of her nine matches at libero, and she tied the school record for most digs the rally-scoring era with 34 against Kent State in her first match in the position. For the year, Thompson is averaging a career-best 3.77 digs per set, and she is 32 digs shy of 900 in her career.

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