Rutgers heads to Robert Morris Invitational to end five-match losing streak
This weekend, the Rutgers volleyball team will head to the Robert Morris Invitational in Moon Township, Pennsylvania where it will face off against the University of Pennsylvania, Middle Tennessee State and the host Colonials. This will be the final tournament for the Scarlet Knights before they battle their Big Ten opponents the next weekend.
Last time out, Rutgers endured a devastating three losses while competing at the UMKC Kangaroo Klassic. The Knights lost out to Northern Iowa (3-0), the host Kangaroos (3-0) and South Dakota (3-1), putting Rutgers at five consecutive losses for an overall 3-6.
Junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie topped the Knights offensive front on the first day of the tournament with 19 kills while freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik’s consistent performances allowed her to be named to her third consecutive All-Tournament Team.
Two Rutgers starters, sophomore Jasmine Stackhouse and senior Meme Fletcher, were absent from the UNI game to recover from injuries as well as freshman Beka Kojadinovic, who was sidelined from both the UNI and UMKC matches.
Up first for the Knights will be the University of Pennsylvania, which sits at an overall 3-3 and a .500 hitting percentage. Although Penn has not played as many games as Rutgers, its hitting percentage is significantly higher than the Knights’ .333. Last weekend, Penn competed at the Valley Forge Sports Invitational where it achieved a straight-set victory against Siena College, but lost to Navy (1-3) and LaSalle (2-3).
Following the matchup against Penn, Rutgers will play Middle Tennessee State in the afternoon on Friday. At the beginning of their tournament season, Middle Tennessee faced UMKC and Northern Iowa, but like the Knights, they lost to both teams in straight-sets. Currently, Middle Tennessee has won the past three games, but still has an overall 3-8, having lost eight consecutive games beforehand. The Raiders seem to be picking up their momentum heading into this weekend and with their .273 hitting percentage compared to the Rutgers’ .333, the Knights will have to play tough in order to halt Middle Tennessee’s winning streak.
The host Robert Morris Colonials will be the last game of Rutgers’ tournament season. With an overall of 5-7 and a .417 hitting percentage, it does not look like the Knights will be able to outscore the Colonials if they lose to Penn or Middle Tennessee on the previous day. Robert Morris competed at the Valley Forge Sports Invitational, the same tournament as Penn, but did not play against them. The Colonials played better than Penn by defeating not only Siena (3-0), but LaSalle (3-2) too.
Rutgers will face a lot of challenges moving into the conference season, so this weekend will be the Knights' best chance of winning a match or two before the Big Ten teams start stomping into New Brunswick.
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