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No. 5 Penn State cruises past Rutgers

The Rutgers volleyball team traveled to State College, Pennsylvania, this past Saturday to face No. 5 Penn State in what was assuredly going to be a very lopsided win for the Nittany Lions (9-2, 2-0) long before either team took the court. 

Penn State, who was in possession of a 34-9 all-time record against the Scarlet Knights (6-7, 0-2) prior to Saturday's contest, came out with an entitled sense of confidence in the three-set sweep. The Lions left with an even larger will to continue the display of dominance going into their next match against Wisconsin on Wednesday.

For Rutgers, the narrative proved to be much different than that of its Big Ten rival, as the Knights could not seem to overcome the level of talent that was put on display by Penn State. The Lions went on a 6-0 run in the first set, a 5-0 run in the second and a 6-0 run in the third set.

Penn State's Tori Gorrell and teammate Kendall White contributed to the Lions' straight set sweep of Rutgers. With each contributing to an overall .315 hitting percentage for Penn State, the satisfactory performance put forth by the Knights’ offensive front was simply not enough to keep pace with the highly-favored school heading into the night.

Despite this, when searching for some positives for Rutgers team that is heading back home to face Nebraska this Wednesday night at 7 p.m., it isn’t difficult to find a few from certain individuals that never seem to shy away from a time to produce. 

True freshman setter Caitlin Kikta, three days after putting up a total of eight assists in her collegiate debut against Michigan, further showed her potential to be a vital asset of the team going forward. She had 13-assist game that was instrumental in the limited amount of success that was had for the Knights’ offense on the night. 

On the alternative side, senior libero Karysa Swackenberg lived up to her status as one of the conference’s best defensive players with yet another showing of standout play. Swackenberg ended the night with a team-high 13 digs and Rutgers' lone ace for the match.

As noteworthy as these two showings were for the Knights, but, one thing should remain abundantly clear to both head coach CJ Werneke and the players under his direction: The team, as a whole, needs to improve. 

Senior middle blocker Jasmine Stackhouse led the team with 8.5 points. She finished the game with an attack percentage of .500. She had 6 kills during the game.

Junior right-side hitter Kamila Cieslik had 14 total attacks over the weekend. She had 7 kills, as well. 

Cieslik compiled a .357 attack percentage while notching 7.5 points. 

True freshman setter Caitlin Kikta tallied a career-best 13 assists in the loss. Her previous career-high was eight assists in her first match on the Banks, against Michigan on Sept. 25. 

Kikta had two digs and 1 kill in Pennsylvania. She has six total digs in her first season on the Banks.

With the loss to the Lions, Rutgers is now in the midst of an 82-game losing record against teams in the Big Ten. That’s 82 games without a win in its conference. 

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

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