Knights end winless streak behind rookies’ play
On a weekend when the seniors took the spotlight, a Rutgers volleyball freshman stole the show.
The Scarlet Knights ended their 14-game losing streak Friday against Temple (17-10, 8-7) in four sets behind the strong performances of freshman middle blocker Lauren Cloyd and freshman outside hitter Micaela Anderson.
While the team fell in four sets to Memphis (14-16, 6-10) yesterday, the victory began the senior day weekend at the College Ave. Gym.
“It’s definitely boosted our spirits,” Cloyd said. “We cheered like and felt like we won the national championship, and I think it’s really going to help us do better further on for the rest of our season.”
The Knights collected a win against a program with a winning record for the first time this year. The win also marked their first home and conference victory this year.
The fourth set saw both teams trade leads throughout before the Knights took command at 20-18.
With the fifth largest crowd of the season, Rutgers inched closer to victory and sealed it with sophomore outside hitter Alex Lassa’s kill to win the final set, 25-23.
Rutgers impressed in the third set thanks to strong serving from sophomore defensive specialist Ronnie Komisarek.
Her service helped Rutgers jump to a 13-4 lead as the Knights won the set in a 25-16 route.
The Knights dropped the second set to the Owls because of eight attacking errors. The set was tightly contested, but Temple held on for a 25-23 win.
Rutgers never trailed in the opening frame, setting the stage for the night. The Knights’ size advantage hurt the Owls’ attack as Rutgers comfortably won, 25-15.
Three players finished with double-digit kills for Rutgers and a strong .260 hitting percentage.
Cloyd and sophomore Anna Sudbury proved essential to the Knights victory. Their combined defense was strong throughout and both contributed in the offensive end to form a dangerous partnership.
“We have been working on it all week so that connection has been getting better and better,” Sudbury said. “It was nice to see it tonight.”
Against Memphis, the team honored seniors Brittany Bozzini and Tracy Wright before the final home match of their careers.
The Tigers’ relentless offense spoiled the occasion.
In the fourth set, the Tigers pounced to an early lead and never looked back.
Rutgers recorded its worst hitting percentage of the match and conceded the last point on a delay of game penalty during a serve to drop the match, 25-13.
The Knights fared better in the third set.
The set was back and forth with a 14-13 Memphis lead before the Knights went on a 7-0 run behind the service of Wright.
Rutgers held on to win the set 25-18, holding Memphis to a .107 hit percentage.
Memphis led early in the second set, 7-1, but Anderson’s nine kills helped Rutgers fight back.
Trailing 19-18, the Tigers went on a 6-1 run to seal the set, 25-19.
The Knights lacked the Tigers’ intensity in the first set, trailing 10-3 and never recovering. Rutgers dropped the opening frame, 25-11.
While head coach C.J. Werneke was disappointed with the Knights’ play yesterday against Memphis, Rutgers play against Temple takes a tremendous weight off the shoulder of the players and coaching staff.
“When our team commits to being a team consistently and brings a high level of energy and intensity coupled with intensity, good things can happen.” Werneke said. “We did that Friday … and we did that for one set today and it’s plagued us all year.”
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