Rutgers squanders chance at victory at Indiana
The Rutgers volleyball team had its hopes set high for this past weekend to come out with its first Big Ten win of the season, but failed to finish off their early 2-1 lead over Indiana to lose in five sets.
Before returning home, the Scarlet Knights also faced No. 17 Purdue the following day and lost in straight sets. Rutgers is now the only team in the Big Ten without a win, putting them at 11 consecutive losses.
After the Knights won the second and third set, the Hoosiers attacked the back half of the match to overtake Rutgers in set scores of 25-17, 14-25, 22-25, 25-15 and 15-9. Even though the Knights couldn’t secure the win, the match was highlighted by out-blocking (7-6) and out-digging (60-50) Indiana in addition to recording a Big Ten-high .276 hitting percentage.
“It’s disappointing,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “We played with grit and determination in sets two and three, but the moment got the better of us in the fourth and fifth. When that happens, your skills start to waver and you’re not the same team. You have to be the aggressor like we were earlier.”
That "aggressor" was led by a trio of players hitting double-digit kills, beginning with junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie to fire off a match-high 16 kills through five sets.
Behind McLetchie was sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic and freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik, collecting a career-high 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Cieslik also logged her fourth double-double with a career-high 19 digs.
Sophomore setter Megan Sharkey recorded 42 assists, the most in a conference match since 2015. Along with the 28 assists, she posted at the match against Purdue, Sharkey totals 1,138 to put her at No. 9 on the Knights’ all-time leaderboard. Her next sight will be set on No. 8 Roxy Calder’s 1,673 assists set in 2008.
In the match against Purdue, Rutgers had a terrific second set to change up the lead seven times and was highlighted by an 8-1 stint after a timeout from Werneke, but ultimately lost in straight set scores of 11-25, 21-25 and 16-25.
McLetchie stayed on top from playing Indiana to Purdue as she hit 14 kills followed by Cieslik also hitting double-digit kills with 10. Additionally, Cieslik has been very consistent in the ace department, having logged at least one ace in the past six matches to keep her at No. 2 in the Big Ten for service aces.
Next up, the Knights will play their first midweek match of the season against Northwestern on Wednesday at the College Avenue Gymnasium. Rutgers faced off against the Wildcats just over three weeks ago with Northwestern coming out with the win.
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