Knights hope to capture first Big Ten win over season

This weekend, the Rutgers volleyball team will return to its home court to face off against No. 5 Minnesota (19-2, 8-2) at the College Avenue Gym. The Scarlet Knights (5-17, 0-10) remain the sole team in the Big Ten without a conference win in the books and it will be nearly impossible for Rutgers to outplay such a dominant team in the Big Ten.

The Knights have been performing better as the season has come along, with their best match played last weekend against Indiana. Rutgers was able to out-dig and out-block the Hoosiers with a 2-1 lead but was unable to stop their comeback in the last two sets and went on to lose the match 3-2. The Knights did come out with a .276 attack percentage, their best in the conference season.

Rutgers also played No. 17 Purdue, but lost to them in straight sets the following day.

Junior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie has been on fire the past couple of games, leading a trio of Knights to double-digit kills at the match against Indiana. Over the weekend, McLetchie logged 30 kills, followed by freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik with 21. At the Indiana match, sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic recorded a career-high 12 kills, becoming the third player to hit double-digits.

Sophomore setter Megan Sharkey wrote her name in at No. 9 on Rutgers’ all-time leaderboard for assists, as her career total reached 1,138. No. 8 Roxy Calder’s 1,673 assists will be Sharkey’s next target.

With a No. 5 ranking in the latest AVCA coaches poll and a No. 2 ranking in the NCAA RPI, the Gophers are one of the top-five teams in the nation. Minnesota has a .288 team hitting percentage, good for No. 12 in the NCAA and currently sits first in the Big Ten for team digs, kills and assists. 

Out of the 10 conference matches that they’ve played in, the Gophers have only lost against Michigan State and Nebraska in straight sets.

Six different Minnesota players have been named Big Ten players of the week, which are all dispersed among the top 10 in the conference. 

This week, Dalianliz Rosado of Minnesota was named Defensive Player of the Week for logging 36 digs and six assists, with no errors on 32 reception attempts during matches against Ohio State and Wisconsin. Rosado currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten for digs, averaging 4.50 a set. 

With four Setter of the Week awards this season, Gopher Samantha Seliger-Swenson stands at the top of Big Ten for assists by a large margin, with an average of 12.31 per set.

The Knights will return from Evanston, Illinois, where they played Northwestern on Wednesday, to prepare for a home match with Minnesota, who comes to the Banks to play at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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

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