By Marissa Masano
The Youngstown State University women’s volleyball team opened its 2023 campaign by hosting Canisius University, Saint Francis University and Belmont University on Aug. 25 and 26 inside Beeghly Center.
Entering the season, the Penguins have nine returning players, including graduate student Josi Borum who was a Second Team All-Horizon League selection. Another returnee for the Penguins is sophomore Abbie Householder who was named on last season’s Horizon League All-Freshman Team.
Along with the returning players, the Penguins added four freshmen and a transfer student for the 2023 season. For Borum, the incoming players make an impactful role to the team’s play style.
“It’s always fun to have a lot of newcomers that bring some different roles to the team,” Borum said. “It will be good for them to learn our system and give us some new areas of playing.”
The lady ‘Guins opened the day by defeating Canisius 3-2. Senior Elise Moeller led the team with 21 kills while also tallying a double-double. Borum, Householder and senior Isabel Schaefbauer also recorded double-doubles.
To finish off opening day, the Penguins were defeated by Belmont. The Penguins started strong, taking the opening set 25-16, but fell to the Bruins in over three sets.
Although Belmont led the game in kills, aces and assists, the Bruins accumulated more errors than the Penguins.
The defensive side of the ball for Youngstown State was strong as the team recorded nine blocks against Belmont’s seven. Leading the team with four blocks a piece was sophomore Julia Sell and senior Dayan Malave.
To close out the invitational, the Penguins faced the Red Flash on Aug. 26. Saint Francis took the first, third and fourth set to come away with a victory over the Penguins. The final score was 3-1, despite the Penguins fighting through 38 ties and 15 lead changes.
For the Penguins, Borum and junior Jazmin Vergara both recorded double-doubles. Vergara also led the team with sixteen kills.
Following the invitational, the Penguins lead the Horizon League in digs and moved into the top three in kills and assists. Youngstown State is building off one of the best offenses in recent seasons and are currently ranked fourth in the conference in hitting percentage with .209.
Individual Penguin performances are also standing out. Tentatively, graduate student Isidora Sisic leads the Horizon League in digs averaging 5.23 per set. Vergara was Youngstown State’s representative on the All-Tournament team at the invitational. She averaged 3.57 kills per set as well as an attacking percentage of .340.
The Penguin’s performances also stood out in the “game highs” leaderboard for the Horizon League. Sisic’s 27 digs in the game against Canisius currently leads the league. Also against Canisius, senior Elise Moeller tentatively leads the league in total attempts with 60.
The lady ‘Guins will now set their sights on the Toledo Invitational on Aug. 31. The first game in a three-game slate will be played against the host team, the University of Toledo.
Head coach Aline Scott is returning for her sixth season with the Penguins. For Scott, the three-game stretch of Toledo, University of Memphis and Virginia Tech will be a challenge but will help the team move forward.
“It was built that way so we can be really challenged this week and learn to continue those behaviors under stress,” Scott said.
The Penguins haven’t faced off against the Rockets since 2021. During the meeting, the Rockets defeated the Penguins, 3-0. Both teams are entering the match-up with records of 1-2.
To watch the game check out ESPN+ and for stats, highlights and more visit ysusports.com.