Rutgers starts season with win at ECU Invitational
The Rutgers volleyball team had a strong start last week as the Scarlet Knights competed in the East Carolina Invitational, the Seton Hall Classic as well as a home opener in between the two tournaments. Overall, Rutgers holds a 3-3 record to begin the season as the Knights prepare for greater Big Ten threats toward the end of September.
At the East Carolina Invitational, Rutgers lost its first game against Georgie State (3-1), but came back around to easily defeat William & Mary (3-0) and East Carolina (3-1) the following day.
Making her debut was freshman Kamila Cieslik as she was named the ECU Invitational Most Valuable Player. She collected the highest number of kills for the Knights during all three matches, out-performing herself each time Rutgers played while reaching a high of 17 kills on the last game against ECU.
Head Coach CJ Werneke notes Cieslik’s consistency in practice for her reliable performances at every game.
“She never gets too high or low, and this is what we’ve come to expect after seeing her in practice," he said. "She’s efficient and brings steady, disciplined energy. That’s what it takes to be a well-rounded volleyball player at this level.”
Other notable mentions were sophomore setter Megan Sharkey and freshman outside hitter Yana Kamshilina who were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Next up, the Knights travelled back to Rutgers for the first home game against Siena at the College Avenue Gym. The first two sets of the game were rather close as the lead went back and forth between the Knights and Siena. Ultimately, Rutgers came up with the wins, 25-18 and 25-20 respectively. The Knights shined on the third and final set of the match, blowing past Siena for a 25-6 win to close out the game, 3-0.
The Seton Hall Classic that followed the Rutgers home opener proved to be a challenge as the Knights lost both matches between Buffalo (3-2) and Seton Hall (3-1). Rutgers played a full five sets against Buffalo, but the opposing team was able to outscore the Knights by winning the second, third and fifth sets (25-21, 25-19, 15-9) to secure the win.
Additionally, Rutgers battled with swords out during each set, but were unable to seal the deal over Seton Hall as the Pirates won the last three sets to put the Knights at a second consecutive loss.
Last season, Rutgers played tremendously for the first couple of games during the non-conference portion of its schedule, but failed to continue that momentum while facing Big Ten opponents. The Knights had a record 28 consecutive losses to close out that season. Going into their fourth year in the Big Ten, it will be interesting to see if Rutgers is able to make a comeback from its match losses from this past weekend and turn things around for the rest of the season.
The Knights are back again this upcoming weekend, Sept. 8-9, at the Kangaroo Klassic to play against Northern Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri-Kansas City.
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