Changing a Program


Lauren Thompson (15) tries to float the ball over the Wright State University front line.

By Dan Hiner

Volleyball is a game fueled by team chemistry. There is a connection between the players that is rarely seen in other sports. Regardless of the outcome of a particular play, good or bad, the team always comes together after every point to encourage each other and prepare for the next serve.

The Youngstown State University volleyball held its final home game of the season on Tuesday and four members of the team had the opportunity to play their final game at the Beeghly Center.

The Penguins lost 3-2 in five sets to Wright State University 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-13. YSU was down 14-13 during the final serve when the Penguins were called for fault during an attempt to block a Wright State attack.

“It’s been a great ride overall,” senior Aly Ryan said. “No regrets I guess you could say, but it stinks to go down like that, but we fought really hard and so did they…so it makes it a little bit easier.”

Nikki Thompson, Lauren Thompson and Ryan joined the Penguins’ roster in 2012. Defensive specialist and setter Jessie Gerig transferred from Broward College before her sophomore year in 2013. Hardaway said the team had a difficult season, but the senior class has set the groundwork for the program to win in the future.

“We’ve lost a lot of tough matches this year. I think they did a nice job this year of fighting through that,” head coach Mark Hardaway said. “I think what they’ve done for the program before this year…they’ve done so much for the program. When you look at the senior class, they’ve won three of the four years. There’s not a senior class in the history of the program that’s done that. They’ve done some good things. They’ve gotten us on track. I know we’ve slid back a little bit this year, but they’ve really gotten the program back on track.”

Ryan became the 19th player in program history to record 1,000 career points. Ryan is a team captain, and Hardaway commended her for her career at YSU.

“Aly’s done a nice job all year. She’s really played better late in the year,” Hardaway said. “She got off to kind of a slow start in the conference, but she’s just gotten stronger and stronger as the year’s gone on. I can’t say enough about her. She’s been a good leader — four-year starter — when you have those kids on the court, it’s hard to replace them. She’s done a good job for us and a good job leadership wise.”

YSU has two games remaining this season and the Penguins are looking to end their season on a high note. Senior outside hitter Lauren Thompson said the team played well this season and had to fight through difficult circumstances throughout the year.

“We did a pretty good job this year. We had a lot of fight even though we had a lot of adversity come at us in different types of angles,” Lauren Thompson said. “We had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of different types of injuries, but what I think what’s important is we never acted like a losing team. We always fought hard and we gave it our all.”