By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University volleyball team lost in five sets, 3-2, at Robert Morris University this past Friday, Oct. 8. The set scores at UPMC Events Center were 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 18-25, 15-13.
Freshman Paula Gursching had a match and career-high 24 kills on 53 attempts, and she recorded an impressive .302 attack percentage. Junior Nadia Pace provided 10 kills, and she was in on eight of the Penguins’ 15 blocks. Junior Josi Borum had a match-high 19 digs, and sophomore Lexie Beeke contributed a career-best 49 assists.
Borum said the added presence of Gursching this season has helped motivate the team to play better.
“She’s amazing. We all trust her that she can get the job done, especially in her hitting. She’s definitely our go-to and we set her every ball we can. She makes us all better because we all want to play up to her level,” she said.
In the first set, RMU built a 10-5 lead, but the Penguins scored 6 of the next 7 points to tie the score at 11. YSU knotted the set again at 14, but was never able to pass the Colonials.
The Penguins held the upper hand for the majority of the second set, and their final lead was 20-19. A kill by Borum tied the set at 23. Ally Christman served RMU’s third ace of the set to give them a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Penguins scored the first 8 points of the third set and the lead grew to as much as a dozen twice before the Colonials cut the margin to five twice. Gursching had seven of her kills in the third set.
YSU went on a 9-4 run midway through the fourth set to take a 17-11 lead, and the Penguins would win 25-18 to force a fifth set.
The women led 6-4 in the fifth following a kill by senior Amanda Lebioda, but a serving error sparked a key 4-point run by the Colonials that gave them an 8-6 lead. The Penguins tied the score at 10, 11 and 12 but were never able to regain the lead. A kill by Gursching saved one match point, but the first-year outside hitter’s next attack at 14-13 went wide.
Borum discussed how there were still positives to be taken away within this defeat.
“It shows us that we can play with anybody and that even though we were down two [sets], we can still come back and fight,” she said.
The Penguins will continue their five-match road stretch with contests at The University of Wisconsin–Green Bay on Oct. 14, the University of Illinois at Chicago on Oct. 15 and University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee on Oct. 17.