June 18, 2019 | 75° F

Rutgers set to host invitational over weekend

Photo by Casey Ambrosio |

Following a 3-1 record in the Crosstown Tournament at Lafayette, the Rutgers volleyball team will host the Rutgers Invitational this weekend. 

The Scarlet Knights (3-4) will welcome Howard, Tulane and Navy to the College Ave Gym this Friday and Saturday. The tournament will be the school's second time hosting a non-conference invitational since 2016. 

Leading Rutgers to its back-to-back victories over Lafayette and Rider were freshmen Inna Balyko, Anastasiia Maksimova and Anastasiya Kudryashova. 

Setter Balyko contributed to the Knights' offensive efforts by contributing 34 and 38 assists, consecutively, and recorded her second double-double game in her first season. 

Balyko earned the weekly honor of being named the Big Ten Conference’s freshman of the week, an award that Rutgers has not achieved since the school joined the conference in 2014. She ranks eighth in the conference with 10.25 assists.

Outside hitter Maksimova and right sider Kudryashova had a career-high 9 kills in the Knights straight set victory over the Leopards in the third game of the Crosstown Tournament. 

Howard’s (5-2) volleyball team is coming off a sweep in the Cardinal Classic, as the Bisons defeated Texas Southern, Lamar and Southern. Senior setter Tamia Dockery was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Honor. In Howard’s first game against the Tigers, Dockery recorded a game-high 30 assists. 

Three of the Bisons made up the All-Tournament Team, Dockery and sophomores outside hitter Jurnee Tipton and libero Fola Wilson. Against the Jaguars in Howard’s last game, Tipton tallied 15 kills, eight digs, three aces and one assist. Wilson finished the game with 26 digs. 

Despite their explosive offensive efforts, the Bisons made various errors within the tournament — in its 3-1 victory over Lamar, Howard recorded 19 errors. 

Their hitting percentage hovered around .280, which is low considering the team finished the game with 48 points. Rutgers will take on the Bisons on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Tulane (6-2) is heading into the Rutgers Invitational following a 2-2 outing at the Georgia Tech Invitational. Junior libero Kaylie McHugh and freshman outside hitter Makala Heidelberg made up the All-Tournament Team. Heidelberg led the team with 15 digs in the first match. 

In the Green Wave’s final game of the tournament against Georgia Tech, Tulane posted 62 kills, 60 digs, 18 blocks and .294 hit ratio. But, they still came up short to the host team. The Knights will play the Green Wave at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. 

The Navy Midshipmen (4-3) had a solid start to the season, winning 2 of their first 3 games, but has since been swept by Villanova and lost a tight contest to Alabama. Sophomore outside hitter Maddi Sgattoni leads the Midshipmen with 74 kills this season. Senior setter Patricia Mattingly leads the team with 195 assists through seven matches. 

Rutgers will take on Navy to close out the two-day tournament on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 1:30 p.m. The Midshipmen’s first game is against Tulane on Friday at 1 p.m. They finish their day at night when they take on Howard at 7 p.m.

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

Jake Schmied

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