Rutgers still looking for first Big Ten win at Northwestern this weekend
The Rutgers volleyball team will have a chance to redeem itself on Wednesday when it faces off against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois. The Scarlet Knights have been extremely close to winning their first Big Ten game of the season, but they still remain the only team in the conference without a win to their name.
When traveling to Indiana, Rutgers played phenomenally without a home crowd this past weekend when playing Indiana and No. 17 Purdue. The weekend was highlighted by the Indiana match where the Knights nabbed a 2-1 lead over Indiana by out-digging and out-blocking the Hoosiers but failed to finish the job even with a Big Ten-high hitting percentage of .276.
The Indiana match was led by junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie, logging 16 kills as one of three players to hit double digits. McLetchie was followed by sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic’s career-high 12 and freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik’s 11. Additionally, Cieslik hit a career-high 19 digs for a double-double.
Sophomore setter Megan Sharkey recorded the most assists in a conference match since 2015 when she notched 42 assists against Indiana. In addition to the 28 assists from the game against Purdue, Sharkey finally reached Rutgers’ all-time leaderboard for assists at No. 9 with 1,138. No. 8 Roxy Calder’s 1,673 assists set back in 2008 will be the next name for Sharkey to take down.
At the match against Purdue, McLetchie continued her dominating performance by leading the Knights with 14 kills while Cieslik was the only other player to hit double digits with 10. Cieslik has also recorded at least one ace in the past six matches to place her at No. 2 for service aces in the Big Ten.
Like Rutgers, Northwestern hasn’t had a star-stellar season, having won two conference matches against the two lowest ranked teams in the Big Ten, Rutgers and Indiana. Several weeks ago, the Wildcats took the Knights’ home match in straight sets, 25-19, 25-13 and 25-12, logging a .485 hitting percentage over Rutgers’ .162.
All of the losses that Northwestern has endured this season have been straight-set losses except for one match against Maryland, where it lost 2-3. Indiana was also not an easy win for the Wildcats as they played for five sets, winning at 3-2.
The Knights will have to watch out for Northwestern’s Symone Abbott as she averages 4.34 kills per set to take the top spot in the Big Ten.
Rutgers and Northwestern will go head-to-head at 8 p.m. in the Wildcats’ court to see if it is able to avenge Northwestern’s last win against them.
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