Rutgers bounces from Maryland to Ohio State in trying weekend ahead
For the first time since the conference season has begun, the Rutgers volleyball team will venture to two states in two days to face off against its third pair of Big Ten teams this weekend. The Scarlet Knights (5-11, 0-4) will be challenged by Maryland on Friday in College Park, Maryland, and continue their action in Columbus, Ohio, where Ohio State resides. Rutgers has endured four Big Ten losses all in straight sets and that number continues to rise. The Knights are looking for a win to turn things around and not repeat last year’s upsetting season.
Last weekend, Rutgers lost its two home games against Northwestern and Illinois, racking up its consecutive losses to five.
Leading the Knights in the match against Northwestern was freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik with 10 kills and an ace. Junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie trailed Cieslik with seven kills and a block. Cieslik and McLetchie switched leads as McLetchie stole the show in the Illinois match with 11 kills and a block compared to Cieslik’s five kills and two blocks.
Other notable performances were sophomore libero Karysa Swackenberg who logged seven digs to control Rutgers’ back line for the ninth time this season and sophomore setter Megan Sharkey with 41 total assists between both games. Sharkey’s total career assists now stands at 981 and she is quickly en route to the 1,000 mark.
Having lost its past two games against Michigan and Michigan State, Maryland will try and recover from its 1-3 conference season with a rebound win against the Knights. The Terrapins sit at No. 30 in the NCAA RPI. Also in the rankings is Maryland’s Academic All-Big Ten selection Hailey Murray, sitting ninth for top hitting percentage in the country with a .434.
Ohio State is on a similar performance level compared to Maryland as the Buckeyes rank No. 29 in the RPI and have received votes in the most recent AVCA coaches poll. Ohio State also lost its latest matches against Michigan at Michigan State in the same amount of sets as Maryland. They both fell to Michigan in four sets and to Michigan State in straight sets. Along with playing Rutgers this weekend, Ohio State and Maryland will each challenge No. 3 Penn State.
Maryland and Ohio State have already played each other at the beginning of the conference season with Ohio State coming out with the win in a straight set victory.
With five consecutive losses already recorded for the Knights this season and travelling off to other Big Ten teams’ home games, Rutgers will need to find a way to come together and play to the best of its ability in the next couple of days.
For updates on the Rutgers volleyball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.