Knights lose final two games to close five-win season
Following a five-set loss Wednesday at Cincinnati, the Rutgers volleyball team closed its season Friday with a straight-set loss on the road against AAC regular season champion Louisville.
The Cardinals’ (23-7, 18-0) well-rounded attack overwhelmed the Scarlet Knights (5-27, 1-17).
Louisville finished with an impressive .400 attack percentage, in large part thanks to outside hitter Maya McClendon, who finished with 16 kills and 15 digs for a double-double.
The Knights trailed the entire third set despite efficiently hitting for their match with .276.
Rutgers trailed, 18-15, but a late 4-0 run saw the Cardinals pull away for the 25-19 win to finish the match.
After the Knights jumped out to a 6-5 lead in the second set, Louisville responded with a large run of their own.
Rutgers recorded only four kills, dropping the set, 25-13.
Sophomore outside hitter Alex Lassa and sophomore middle blocker Mikaela Matthews opened up scoring in the opening frame with a kill each before the Cardinals answered with a 10-2 run.
The Knights never recovered and dropped the set, 25-16.
The Reigning American Freshman of the Week, outside hitter Micaela Anderson, led the team with 10 kills for her seventh double-digit kill performance of the season.
“Louisville was an OK game,” said senior libero Tracy Wright. “They’re obviously an amazing team, but we did some good things against them, like serving really well. So I was happy with how we played.”
Against Cincinnati, the Knights looked to avenge the loss earlier this season when the Bearcats defeated them in five sets Oct. 27 at the College Ave. Gym.
Rutgers fell short once again in five.
The fifth set came remained tight as both teams traded early leads. Two attacking errors from the Knights allowed the Bearcats (3-29, 2-15) to pull ahead 11-6.
Lassa delivered a pair of timely kills to pull Rutgers within 2, but Cincinnati responded with two kills to seal the match, 15-11.
The fourth set went back and forth until the final 7 points. Tied at 17, the Knights went on an 8-4 run thanks to kills from four different players to win the set, 25-21.
Rutgers recorded its highest attack efficiency of the match in the second set, hitting .235, but 18 Bearcats kills were too much to overcome dropping the set 22-25.
Cincinnati started the first set with a 5-0 run and never looked back taking the game 25-15.
Matthews finished the match with career-highs in both kills and blocks, with 19 and 10, respectively.
Her performance marks the first time since 2006 a Knight finished with a double-double in kills and blocks.
Andreassian finished with a career-high 13 kills and Wright ended with 38 digs, a career high and second highest in the conference.
“Cincinnati was a great game, probably one of the best we have played all season,” Wright said. “We did a lot of great things and we were finally playing together. Our offense and defense really clicked.”
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