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Rutgers searching for 1st conference win against Ohio State

After three straight matches against No. 5 Penn State, No. 2 Nebraska and No. 7 Minnesota, the Rutgers volleyball team will be hoping to catch its breath this Friday in a statement game at the Banks against fellow Big Ten rival Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes, who are in the midst of a mediocre 8-8 season with a 1-3 record in the conference, will be taking on the Scarlet Knights (6-9, 0-4), in what will surely be an evenly matched contest between two schools struggling to get their feet back under them after three straight match losses to their respective teams.

Beginning at 7 p.m. at the College Avenue Gymnasium, head coach CJ Werneke and his team will be looking to rebound after a loss that cost them a chance to seize their first conference win on the season, which would surely have provided some momentum heading into the match against Ohio State.

Instead, Rutgers will have to learn from the mistakes committed in its bout with the Golden Gophers (10-2, 4-0) and rely on what will be practiced day in and day out to improve whatever imperfections that continue to impede Werneke’s players from capturing their first Big Ten victory in more than 76 matches.

The Knights will be relying on a strong offensive showing from sophomore outside hitter Tali Marmen, who is looking to bounce back from a performance against the Gophers. She posted a  -.114 hitting percentage and just 4 kills in the 35 total attacks.

For Rutgers to end its Friday night with a win and a milestone achievement for the program, it will surely need more than just Marmen and the rest of the offensive front to contribute.

Senior middle blocker Jasmine Stackhouse, who currently leads the team in 54 blocks after contributing to the Saturday night effort with three more, will need to lead a defense that has some merit to show for themselves in the toughest conference in the nation. 

The Knights have consistently showed they can handle themselves after keeping the score close in two of the previous matches, though a multitude of costly errors ultimately lead to Rutgers' downfall in both the affairs.

This Friday night, though, the Knights will ultimately look to flip the script on the season and capture a very important victory against the Buckeyes. They hold an all-time record of 8-0 against Rutgers since their introduction to the Big Ten in 2014. 

Doing so will not only allow the Knights to improve on the decent number of wins it has to show for this season, but also will allow the volleyball program to finally show schools across the nation its full potential for this year.

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

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