Rutgers falls in straight sets to No. 1 Penn State
It comes as no surprise that No. 1 Penn State defeated the Rutgers volleyball team this past weekend in University Park, Pennsylvania. The Scarlet Knights (5-21, 0-14) struggled throughout the match to keep pace with the Nittany Lions' surge to victory, marking the 12th match this Big Ten season that Rutgers has lost in straight sets.
The Knights were able to get on the board for 22 points through the short match, losing by set scores of 25-9, 25-9 and 25-12. Penn State’s .567 hitting percentage was no match for Rutgers’ .056 as the hosts racked up 42 kills and 12 aces over the Knights’ measly 16 kills and one ace.
A theme began to develop at the beginning of each set as Rutgers would get out to a 1 or 2-point lead over Penn State before the Nittany Lions would lead off multiple runs and gain momentum to stop the Knights from scoring any more points.
In the first set, Rutgers could not score more than 1 or 2 consecutive points as Penn State launched a 5-0 attack to take the lead before cruising to a 7-0 run to finish out the set.
The Knights’ single service ace of the match came in the second set when sophomore setter Megan Sharkey put Rutgers on the board first. The Knights reached a 4-2 lead over the Nittany Lions before a 10-1 run gave Penn State the lead again to power out 6-0 and 4-0 spurts to complete the set.
Trying to take control of the third set, Rutgers took a 5-3 lead and kept the set score close at 10-9. Feeling the pressure, Penn State rattled off a 10-1 run to double its lead over the Knights at 20-10 and finalized the match with a 5-1 stint at the end.
For the second time in a row, sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Stackhouse led Rutgers’ offensive department with 6 kills. Similar to the Knights’ last match, sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic whipped up 4 kills behind Stackhouse with a team-high .667 hitting mark followed by junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie's 3 kills. Additionally, Stackhouse, Miljevic and McLetchie all recorded two blocks apiece.
Sharkey held her own in the assists department with 13 while two digs each from freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik, freshman Beka Kojadinovic and sophomore libero Karysa Swackenberg helped keep Penn State at bay for the most part.
Rutgers will return to the College Avenue Gym on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. to go up against Ohio State. The last time the Knights and Buckeyes battled was just over four weeks ago in Ohio where Rutgers lost in straight sets.
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