Penguins travel west for three league games this week


The Youngstown State volleyball team will play three road games over four days this week as they travel to the western portion of the Horizon League footprint. YSU will play back-to-back nights at Green Bay and UIC on Thursday and Friday, and the Penguins return to Wisconsin for a Sunday afternoon game in Milwaukee.

All three matches will be broadcast live on ESPN +, and links to live stats for each match will be available on YSUsports.com.

Penguins at a glance

  • Youngstown State started a five-game stretch of road that continues this week with a pair of losses last week. The Penguins lost 3-0 at Wright State last Tuesday, and they lost 3-2 to Robert Morris on Friday. YSU is 4-13 overall and 1-5 in the Horizon League to get into the road swing.
  • YSU maintained the advantage in most statistical categories against the Colonials, but lost three sets by a total of six points. The Penguins had eight more kills, hit 0.103 more, posted six more digs and recorded five more blocks than their closest rivals in the Horizon League. RMU’s advantage was on the service line, where the Colonials had four more aces and four fewer errors.
  • The Penguins have had their two best attacking percentages of the season in the last three games. YSU hit a season high of 0.272 on Oct. 3 in their 3-1 win over IUPUI, and the Penguins reached a score of 0.270 against Robert Morris on Oct. 8.
  • YSU is set to play nine out of 10 road games. The only home game between October 3 and November 5 is October 19 against Northern Kentucky. The Penguins will end the regular season with four straight games at Youngstown.
  • First-year forward Paula Gursching was named Horizon League Player of the Week on September 22 following a performance against Duquesne that garnered national attention. Gursching had 13 aces, the most by a Division I player in a four-set match since 2003, and added 18 kills and 11 digs for the third triple-double in YSU history.
  • As a team, the Penguins have managed 24 aces against Duquesne, five more than any other Division I team in a game this season.
  • Gursching leads the Horizon League with 3.02 kills per set and 4.59 points per set, and is second in aces with 0.52 per set. She managed a career-high 24 kills in the five-set contest at Robert Morris on Friday.
  • YSU sacked their top forward, top three blockers and two of their passers from a group that went 3-11 in the spring. There are 14 spring ghosts, and four freshmen joined the program this fall to bring the list total to 18.
  • Morgan Cleevely has been the only member of the program for four years. Of the 18 players on the roster, only Cleevely, Aimee Beaupre, Ellie Cox, Bailey Ramlow and Reilly Seagroves played a full fall season in the Penguins’ uniform.
  • Lexie Beeke ranks fifth in the Horizon League with 8.20 assists per set. She was on the brink of a triple-double with nine assists, 42 assists and 18 digs in a five-set game against South Dakota State on September 11. Beeke surpassed 600 career assists in Friday’s game at RMU.
  • Seagroves ranks fourth in the Horizon League with 4.38 digs per set in his debut season at Libero. She led the Penguins in digs in 14 of their first 17 games, and has reached 20 digs six times. Seagroves starts the week with 23 digs to reach 500 for his career.

Recap of last week

Game 1 at Wright State on Oct. 5: L, 0-3 | 25-19, 25-11, 25-19

Game 2 at Robert Morris on October 8: L, 2-3 | 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 18-25, 15-13

  • Paula Gursching had a career-high 24 kills and recorded 28.5 points in Friday’s game against Robert Morris. The 28.5 points were tied for eighth by a penguin in a rally match at any length, and they were fifth in a five-set match. Gursching had previously obtained 31.5 against Duquesne on September 17. The 24 kills were tied for ninth by a YSU player in a five-set game and for 11th overall.
  • YSU hit .270 against Robert Morris, which was the second time in three games that the Penguins have hit at least .270. Prior to hitting .272 against IUPUI on October 3, YSU hadn’t hit at least .270 in a game since October 2016.
  • Defensively, the Penguins managed a top 15 blocks against the Colonials. It was the best blocking performance for YSU as he also had 15 against Milwaukee on November 11, 2017. Nadia Pace was in eight of those blocks to set a new career high.
  • Setter Lexie Beeke recorded her 200th career search and 600th career assist in the game against Robert Morris. She recorded 49 career-high assists and added 10 digs for her seventh double-double of the season.
  • Josi Borum surpassed 500 career goals in the game against the Colonials. She made 229 digs in 30 games at Chicago State in 2019, and she has 281 digs in 31 games as a Penguin. Borum added 10 kills against RMU for his third double-double of the campaign.
  • Kiley Mitchell had five kills and five blocks in his first action of the season against Robert Morris.

Opponent scouting

Green Bay

  • Green Bay is 8-11 overall and 3-4 in the Horizon League heading into Thursday’s game against the Penguins. The Phoenixes started the conference with victories at Purdue Fort Wayne and the IUPUI, and they won at Cleveland State on Oct. 7.
  • Green Bay is second in the Horizon League with 1.92 aces per set, and the Phoenix is ​​fourth with 12.77 eliminations per set. Defensively, Green Bay held off opposing hitters as it allows for the second fewest wins per set in the conference.
  • Individually, Calli Gentry paces the Horizon League with 9.89 assists per set, and Alexandra Zakutney is in the top 10 for aces (0.41) and kills (3.29) per set. Tiffany Paalman averages one block per set, which is tied for third on the league.

UIC

  • UIC is 8-10 overall and tied for fourth in the Horizon League standings at 4-2. The Flames have canceled two home games due to COVID-19, and they just suffered a four-set loss in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
  • The Flames have been strong offensively this season, ranking in the top five in the Horizon League in attacking, ace, win and ace percentages.
  • Paola Santiago and Martina Delucchi are respectively fourth and sixth in the conference for kills per set, and Delucchi is also fourth for aces per set. Becca Oldendorf is second on the circuit with an attack percentage of 0.328.

Milwaukee

  • Milwaukee are the Horizon League’s only undefeated team in conference, with the Panthers winning their first seven games heading into the weekend. Milwaukee, who was selected fourth in the preseason coaching poll, will face Robert Morris on Thursday before the Penguins come to town on Sunday.
  • As a team, the Panthers lead the Horizon League in winning percentage (0.257), assists (13.48) and wins (14.25) per set. They also rank second in recoveries per set (15.93). Nationally, Milwaukee ranks third in set assists and eighth in set kills.
  • Junior middle tackle Ari Miller has been named Horizon League Player of the Week four times in seven weeks. She ranks second in the conference for kills per set behind YSU’s Paula Gursching with 3.85 per set, and Miller’s .396 attacking percentage is 68 points higher than UIC’s Oldendorf. . Madi Malone and Carmen Heilemann also total more than three kills per set to place in the league’s top 10, and Jess Grabowski ranks fifth in recoveries per set at 4.29.

Following

  • Youngstown State will have another three game week next week. The Penguins will make a quick stop at the Beeghly Center to host northern Kentucky on Tuesday, and they will hit the road for games in Cleveland State and Oakland on October 23-24.

About Marc Womack

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