With two remaining home games — including Senior Day on Saturday — right around the corner, the Youngstown State University volleyball team is hoping that their big road win at Valparaiso University on Nov. 9 will help them maintain momentum and finish the season strong.
With the Horizon League tournament approaching, the Penguins feel it could be anyone’s game.
“Anyone from six [seed in the tournament] or seven [seed] on up can win the tournament,” head coach Mark Hardaway said. “There is no one in the conference that can’t be beat.”
Even though the season has been up and down for the Penguins, senior Casey D’Ambrose feels like this team has made plenty of strides from last year’s team.
“Each thing we do is positive, and we keep moving forward,” D’Ambrose said. “We made a lot of big strides form last year. It’s just been completely different.”
Senior Missy Hundelt feels the same way.
“We have grown as a team, and everyone brings a lot to the table,” Hundelt said. “The motivation and the determination is a lot higher then has been in the past years.”
Hundelt suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and tore both meniscuses in her knee.
“Losing Missy was a big blow.” Hardaway said. “We have been very proud of the team; they have worked hard.”
While the team has played well against conference opponents, setting a school record for Horizon League wins with seven, they are just 5-4 at Beeghly Center this season. The Penguins are 8-4 on the road this year.
In their last game against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who the Penguins play on Friday, on Oct. 19, the Penguins lost in three sets after defeating the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay, 3-1, the day before.
The last time YSU played at home was on Nov. 2, falling to Oakland University, 3-1.
But even after the losses, Hundelt expects nothing less than wins from her team in these next few games.
“They’re at the top of our conference, so to play them we can finish strong and see where we are at,” Hundelt said. “I know we can come away with the 2-0 win.”
Even after the loss of one of their leaders in Hundelt, the team still looks to be in a good position come tournament time.
“I’m very happy to maybe finish as high as third without Missy in the lineup.” Hundelt said.
With Senior Night on the horizon, D‘Ambrose and Hundelt, who are two of the team’s seven seniors, were emotional when talking about their time as Penguins.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Hundelt “Were all pretty emotional and were all so close that were going to shed a few tears.”
D’Ambrose said she definitely will have a couple tears in her eye come Senior Night.
The Penguins wrap up the regular season this weekend playing two home games at Beeghly Center. The first game is Friday at 7:00 p.m., while the finale is Saturday at 6 p.m.