June 18, 2019 | 75° F

Rutgers continues search for first Big Ten win of season in trek to Michigan

Traveling to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Rutgers (5-19, 0-12) volleyball team will go head to head with Michigan (15-9, 0-7) for the second time this season Wednesday evening. The Scarlet Knights still sit at the bottom of the Big Ten as they continue the search for a conference win this season.

Last time around, Rutgers hosted No. 5 Minnesota at the College Avenue Gym on Saturday, where it lost in straight sets of 25-9, 25-11 and 25-14. The Knights’ .036 attack percentage could not stop Minnesota’s offense from producing a .398 clip. Highlighting the night was a 36-touch rally where Rutgers secured the point with a kill from sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic as the ball crossed over the net for the 14th time.

The Knights’ offense was led by the dynamic duo, junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie and freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik, as both recorded seven kills apiece. Miljevic logged a .286 hitting percentage to add five kills for Rutgers, and it was the 13th time this season she surpassed at least five kills in a match. Sophomore libero Karysa Swackenberg also tied her Big Ten career high of 16 digs.

This week Cieslik moved down one spot to third in the Big Ten for service aces, averaging 0.4 per set. Sitting at 12th in the conference for assists is sophomore setter Megan Sharkey with 7.98 a set, and sneaking into the rankings for digs is Swackenberg with 2.91 per set.

Looking at the Knights’ Big Ten opponent, Michigan (5-7) has not had the greatest conference season as it sits toward the bottom half of the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines most recently had two home games on Friday and Sunday where Michigan won against Iowa but lost playing No. 7 Nebraska in straight sets. Michigan currently ranks No. 29 in the NCAA RPI but are no longer receiving votes in the latest AVCA coaches poll.

Rutgers’ biggest threat will be Michigan’s Carly Skjodt, as she sits No. 6 in the Big Ten in kills, averaging 3.57 per set. Additionally, the Wolverines’ Jenna Lerg ranks fifth in the conference in digs with an average of 4.11 a set.

The Knights’ previous matchup with Michigan concluded with their first set win of the conference season at home since 2015 when playing Purdue. The last time Rutgers won a set against Michigan was in 2015, as well. At the game, the Knights collected Big Ten season highs of 41 kills, 46 digs and 38 assists with McLetchie and Miljevic hitting 10 kills each.

Rutgers has never won a match against Michigan since joining the conference, but the Knights will have a chance to steal another set from their opponent at the Wolverines’ home court on Wednesday.

For updates on the Rutgers volleyball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Alexandra Fabugais-Inaba

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