Wednesday, August 30, 2017
unbeaten at 4-0
By ALEXIS BARTOLOMUCCI
The Youngstown State University volleyball remained perfect in 2017 as the Penguins beat Robert Morris University in their home opener Tuesday night.
YSU beat RMU 3-2 at Beeghly Center to improve to 4-0.
Sarah Varcolla led the Penguins with 19 points and added 14 kills, 38 assists and one service ace. Senior Sam Brown and freshman Margaux Thompson each scored 15 points.
“The home opener was great — we had so many fans here, it was such a good environment to play in,” Brown said. “So happy we got the W.”
YSU came out strong and won the first two games 25-22 and 25-23. The Penguins fell short, but the Colonials took the next by identical 25-18 scores to tie the match at 2.
Taylor Lord led RMU with 21.5 points, 23 digs and 21 kills.
“Tonight was probably the first match this year where we didn’t out-serve and out-pass the other team,” YSU coach Mark Hardaway said. “I feel very fortunate that we pulled off the win.”
Varcolla scored the winning point for the Penguins in the last game with a service ace to clinch a 15-11 victory and the match.
“I think in the last set we really wanted to push because we knew would could do it,” Thompson said.
Hardaway said Tuesday’s game was a representation of how the season has been going so far. They’ve been playing up and down and there are times when the team makes a lot of mistakes.
He said playing against an emotional team like Robert Morris is dangerous when it comes to making mistakes. The Colonials were able to capitalize on those mistakes coming from the Penguins and get back into the match.
“We still see more positives than negatives. We just have to start limiting our mistakes,” Hardaway said.
YSU started the season with a sweep of Winthrop, Morehead State and Delaware State to win the Eagle Challenge in Morehead, Ky. This is the second time in four years — and the fifth time in program history — that the team began a season 3-0.
Three true freshman who made their collegiate debutes during the Eagle Challenge. Thompson, Marketa Plesingrova and Libbie Darling showed they were there to compete and become part of the team. Plesingrova was named the Eagle Challenge MVP.
“The three freshmen that are playing are really taking a big part of the team,” Brown said.
Hardaway said the upperclass leadership has been helpful this year and embodied working hard right from the start. He said this year’s Penguins are the deepest they have been in years and feature good mix of older and younger athletes.
“The girls were all very welcoming. They always talk to me on the court — I feel comfortable with them,” Thompson said.
Brown and Thompson both agree the future of the season looks bright for the Penguins. Brown is hoping to make it to the Horizon League Tournament in her final season.
Tuesday’s match was the first of five matches in six days for the Penguins. Next for YSU is a trip to El Paso, Texas for the Glory Road Invitational, hosted by UTEP.
The Penguins will meet New Mexico and North Dakota on Friday and UTEP on Saturday.
“This coming weekend in Texas, it’s probably our toughest non-conference tournament,” Hardaway said. “All three teams are very strong. On paper they’ll be the three best teams we’ve played so far this year.”
YSU returns home to host La Salle on Monday.