By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University volleyball team fell against Cleveland State University in a 3-1 contest this past Saturday, Oct. 23 at Woodling Gymnasium.
YSU recorded 26 kills from freshman outside hitter Paula Gursching and senior outside hitter Amanda Lebioda, but Cleveland State University would win the last three sets of the match.
Lebioda said despite the team falling into a tough stretch of matches, it continues to work as one.
“The team has been [working] together. We’re working on communications, talking to the players on the court. It’s helping out a lot,” she said.
During the stretch of losses, the team was affected by a couple of injuries, one being sophomore Lexi Beeke. Lebioda said the team has players who have been stepping up to fill those voids.
“Josi [Borum] went from outside [hitter] to setter. This was better than we were expecting because she’s done an amazing job and that gives us confidence,” she said.
Gursching had a match-high 14 kills, seven of which came in the opening set the team won 25-18. Lebioda had 12 kills of her own and registered an impressive .588 attack percentage. Freshman Caitlyn Jones had a match-best 17 digs, junior Aimee Beaupre had three blocks and junior Josi Borum recorded 36 assists.
YSU hit .448 in the opening set behind Gursching’s seven kills. The Penguins scored the first two points and led the entire set. The lead reached eight four different times.
CSU responded by scoring seven of the first eight points of the second set, which it won 25-16, and the Vikings used an early 10-3 run in the third set to win 25-12.
The fourth set was decided at the service line as the Vikings got 12 points from five aces and seven serving errors from YSU.
The volleyball team would battle for five sets with Oakland University on Sunday, Oct. 24, falling 3-2 to the Golden Grizzlies at the Athletics Center O’rena.
Jones recorded the third-most ever digs by a Penguin in a rally-scoring match with 31 in the five-set setback. Borum had 38 assists and 12 digs for a double-double, and she tied junior Nadia Pace for with a team-high three blocks. Lebioda paced the Penguins offensively with 16 kills on a .317 attack percentage.
The women forced Oakland into 10 attack errors in the opening set as they won 25-20, but the Golden Grizzlies started the second set on a 9-3 run to help tie the match at a set apiece. YSU then had its best set of the day offensively as it hit .214 in the third behind five kills apiece from both Lebioda and Gursching as it took a 2-1 lead. Oakland would take the fourth set to force a fifth.
The Golden Grizzlies blocked Gursching on back-to-back points to start the fifth set. A service error gave Oakland a sideout, and the margin was at least three the rest of the set.
The volleyball team will play its final two road matches of the regular season next weekend as it travels to play Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis Friday, Oct. 29, and Purdue University Fort Wayne Saturday, Oct. 30. Both matches will begin at 6 p.m., and will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Following the completion of this weekend’s road trip, the team will conclude its season on its home court for its final four matches. Lebioda said it is great to finish the season in front of the home fans.
“It’s amazing finishing at home because we have our fans, friends, the girls’ families, senior night, so it’ll be extra special to finish at home,” she said.