Rutgers to face No. 4 Penn State for 2nd straight match
The Rutgers volleyball team played Penn State on Wednesday and fell once again in straight sets, making that four games in a row without a set win.
The Scarlet Knights (6-16, 0-9) are going up against the No. 4 Nittany Lions (16-3, 7-2) once again this Saturday at the College Avenue Gym. With the Lions currently riding a seven-game win streak, Rutgers will have another tough battle on its home turf.
The night wasn’t an overall loss since there was a record broken at this game. The Knights scored the most points in a game against Penn State, since the 25-point rally scoring began in 2008.
After a 10-year drought, Rutgers was able to smash that record with 56 points compared to the previous 48 and get one step closer to defeating the highly ranked Lions.
Also for the Knights, they defeated Penn State in blocking with seven total blocks, while the Lions only had 6.5.
This is the 15th time this season that Rutgers has won in blocking, and also the ninth time that it had more digs than the opposing team. These stats should only fuel the team to persevere in the coming game.
Freshman middle blocker Merle Weidt started the game right by bringing the team to a 5-2 lead. She finished with 5 kills and three blocks and tied in leading blocks with sophomore right side Beka Kojadinovic.
Kojadinovic was able to post 7 kills, 11 digs and three blocks, which served the team well considering such a tough opponent. Kojadinovic led in digs this game, three more than the next leader, senior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie.
In tough battles, McLetchie always seems to come out on top in kills with numbers nearing double digits, but the underclassmen have started taking over the top of the leaderboard.
In the third set, the Knights had proved that they wouldn’t give up without a fight. A key player in the third set was freshman outside hitter Tali Marmen with a solo block and helped the 4-0 lead with a kill.
Coming into the game for the first time, Marmen showed that she was not just playing volleyball for fun, but was on the court to win. Her entrance to the game caused Penn State to rethink its strategy because it wasn’t stopping Marmen.
Finally, Rutgers pushed the Lions to go into extra points with a final set score of 26-24. The Knights had a last-ditch effort to surpass the Lions by causing a miss hit to get them one step closer to a win, but were unable to reach their goal.
Playing at the College Avenue Gym this Saturday, Rutgers should have more confidence and determination to give Penn State a run for its money once again, only this time, the Knights hope to come off the court with a win.
Players to look for at this game include Marmen. With a clear impact on the team in the third set of the previous game, Marmen will intimidate the Lions and support her team every set to come.
Kojadinovic should come out with several kills, after finding a groove in the last game. She was an important component to the close final set, with several kills to get Penn State off its game.
After the game, head coach CJ Werneke commented on the match, and was pleased with the way the team handled the game.
"I'm really proud of the team's effort tonight against the No. 4 team in the nation,” he said. “On national television, in a hostile place to play. They showed fight and grit all night. We took another step in the right direction. We'll need to continue to take those steps to grow in this league. Growth leads to wins."
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