Rutgers loses 2 home matches against Purdue, Indiana

This past weekend, the Rutgers volleyball team lost two matches against Purdue and Indiana at the College Ave Gym. 

On Friday night, the Scarlet Knights (6-19, 0-12) fell to the No. 17 Boilermakers (18-4, 7-4), 3-1, and lost to the Hoosiers (14-9, 5-7) with the same score.

While both matches were disappointing, Rutgers started to show progress in the Big Ten by nabbing a set victory in each game. The team had not won a set since playing Ohio State five matches ago. 

With a step in the right direction, the Knights are hoping to keep fighting back in the Big Ten to make a name for themselves. 

With a lot of tension between teams, Friday night made for an exciting and emotional game. Rutgers started strong and fought close behind Purdue in the first set. 

Points were bouncing back and forth between the teams, until a red card was handed to senior outside hitter Sahbria McLetchie, who had pushed a Boilermaker. 

A long delay had passed and junior middle blocker Jasmine Stackhouse settled the dispute with a major kill to turn the game around. 

The Knights maintained a 8-1 lead over Purdue, led by junior libero Karysa Swackenberg, and McLetchie racking up kills left and right. They pushed through the frustration of the game to leave with their 4th set win against a ranked team in the Big Ten. 

After two more tough set losses, Rutgers had lost another game, pushing them down the line to 0-11 in the Big Ten. 

“There was definitely more tension between some of our front row players and some of their front row players,” Swackenberg said. “It definitely affected our offense, though, I think that we couldn’t handle it. We got timid. We got too angry, so our emotions were all over the place. If we want to compete in the Big Ten we can’t play like that.”

Moving into Saturday night’s game against Indiana, the Knights won the first set and seemed to forget about Friday night’s game.

With only three lead changes in the first set, Rutgers controlled a nice lead with help from standout freshman outside hitter Tali Marmen, who had 7 kills in just the first set alone. The team was comfortable after a 25-21 win in the first set over the Hoosiers, who did not give up in the second set. 

“We worked hard all week from practices and tried to prove ourselves. This just gave us motivation,” Marmen said.

Indiana led the second set the entire time, but Marmen and freshman middle blocker Merle Weidt did their best to stop the continuous points. Weidt had eight blocks, matching her career-high performance against the the Buckeyes. This gave the Knights a boost to win, but they came up short again. 

The third set was a different story. Totaling 11 ties, three lead changes and heading into extra points, this set was a nail-biter. There were several standouts of this set that have gone under the radar for some time. Freshman right side Anastasiya Kudryashova nailed two aces in a row to give Rutgers the lead until 12-9. 

“Today we came out with our first set to fix what we did last time. This time we weren’t gonna let that happen again,” said sophomore right side Kamila Cieslik.

Although the Hoosiers widened the gap after that, Cieslik had a great game with 9 total kills. Cieslik gave the Knights a push at the end of the set with a block assist and a kill to tie the game 25-25. 

Rutgers suffered a tough loss overall, and an even tougher loss in the fourth set with a final score of 25-12. With Indiana leading 13-1, the Knights were down too much to comeback. 

“I don’t think it was different. I think after you lose a game, you come to the second game hungrier," Marmen said. "We knew this team was beatable, and we tried to prove that we can win some games so we came hungrier.”

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

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