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Rutgers readies for 2nd match against No. 8 Nebraska

The last time the Rutgers volleyball team came into a match, it captured its first conference win in over four years. With that victory in the past, and another match coming up this Friday against No. 8 Nebraska in the Cornhuskers’ (16-3, 8-2) home state, it remains to be seen whether or not the Scarlet Knights (7-14, 1-9) will be prepared enough to shock another opponent in what will assuredly be one of the biggest upset victories of the year in Division I volleyball.

It will be no easy task, of course. The last time these two programs opposed each other, Nebraska took a 3-0 sweep on the backs of some of its key players in Lexi Sun and Nicklin Hames. Sun ended the night with 13 total attacks while Hames contributed with 13 digs in the conference victory for the Huskers.

While neither player leads their program in their respective categories for the entire season, it will be interesting to see if Rutgers will be able to stop these two women from inflicting as much damage on the Knights as they did in their last matchup. 

In order to do so, Rutgers will have to rely on two players in particular to get the job done. The leaders of the defense, senior middle blocker Jasmine Stackhouse and senior libero Karysa Swackenberg, will be indicators of whether or not the Knights will be able to come out of Friday night with a win.

Stackhouse, who set the all-time record for block assists for the program in Rutgers’ previous matchup on Sunday afternoon, will have to combat the lethal Nebraska offense that is led by Lauren Stivrins, who has excelled in her offensive role for the Huskers with the compiling of a team-leading .395 hitting percentage in the 19 matches that she has played in this season for her school. 

If Stackhouse is able to limit the offense with the help of Swackenberg, who has accumulated a total of 248 digs on the season, the Knights might just have a chance in taking down a ranked opponent for the first time this year. 

If that occurs, the season has the possibility of having a much more positive tone to it as Rutgers embarks on the last couple weeks of it beginning with its match against Nebraska.

After it, the Knights will have less than one month of play left. Though it is a short timeframe to be able to re-write the script on what has been a disappointing season so far, this volleyball program will certainly hope to do so by taking advantage of every opportunity that is presented to them. 

Though they will be scarce, it will be vital to do so if Rutgers wishes to end the season with any sort of pride or even hope for next season.

The home stretch is approaching for the Knights, and the tone of it will be decided soon. Look to the contest with the Huskers on Friday to be a good indicator of it. 

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

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