Rutgers hosts Purdue, Indiana for another Big Ten weekend
The Rutgers volleyball team has been busy in the media world lately as it prepares for a doubleheader this weekend against No. 17 Purdue on Friday and Indiana on Saturday at the College Avenue Gymnasium.
Alongside two of the Scarlet Knights’ (6-17, 0-10) best performances against Penn State last week, Rutgers made a name for itself over one particular play.
this past weekend, the Knights secured its most exciting point against No. 4 Penn State. Junior libero Karysa Swackenberg dug the ball to junior middle blocker Jasmine Stackhouse, who launched a kick play to senior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie for a bump kill.
Swackenberg’s pass was too low for Stackhouse to recover the ball with her hands, so she decided to stick out her foot in the hopes of saving the point in Rutgers' favor. Fortunately for the Knights, out of all the times she’s tried and failed in practice, her great footwork landed her and the rest of the team on ESPN when it counted the most.
“I try (kicking) in practice a couple times, and it never works out,” Stackhouse said. “But then, I don't know, it’s happened for a lot of people. You just try and go for it. You don't expect it to happen, but when it does, it's just like ‘Oh my god, I just got it up.’ That's what was going through my head, (I) was like ‘woah, did that just happen?’"
Even though Rutgers made a name for itself on SportsCenter, it still lost in straight sets on the Banks. The Knights posted their second-best performance against the Lions, scoring a total 54 points. Rutgers' highest points in a game came against Penn State last week.
The Knights scored 56 points playing their first game against Penn State, which was the most points scored since 25-point rallies began in 2008. They matched the same amount of points scored against the Hoosiers just two weeks ago.
“We work hard on trying not to let the title of who they are dictate how we're going to play,” Stackhouse said on facing Penn State. “The mentality going in is it doesn't matter who they are, at the end of the day, we still have job we have to do.”
In most of its Big Ten matches, Rutgers competes with that same mentality, as the majority of the teams in the conference are nationally ranked. Many teams underestimate the Knights’ ability to perform well, which has worked well for them.
During that first game in Happy Valley, Rutgers out-dug and out-blocked the Lions. That game marked the 15th time the Knights have boasted more blocks and the ninth time it had more digs than their opponent.
If Rutgers can perform as well against the Boilermakers and Indiana, as it did against Penn State, it’ll be able to carry that momentum onward to rid of its five straight set losses in conference matches.
Purdue (6-4, 17-4) has the 14th toughest schedule in the nation, based off of past opponents’ winning percentages, and are riding a three-game winning streak after defeating Iowa, Maryland and Ohio State.
Luckily for the Knights, the Hoosiers (13-8, 4-6) are coming off a straight set loss to the Terrapins on their home court. Indiana is also competing against the Lions on Friday before arriving on the Banks and may very well be tired from its previous day of travel and competition.
For now, Rutgers is focused on the big and small improvements through each game as it heads out of New Jersey for the next four Big Ten matches.
“Just moving into any game period, as we move up, just trying to get better team-wise, being able to execute more,” Stackhouse said on improvements the Knights could make for this weekend. “The game plan is always the same as in keep working to do things better, to make plays better than we did before in past games, so we just keep working forward.”
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