Rutgers volleyball is set for a three-match trip to the Kangaroo Klassic at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which will feature three brand new opponents for the Scarlet Knights program in Northern Iowa, South Dakota and the host Roos.
SCOUTING NORTHERN IOWA (5-2)
• The Panthers start the 2017 season with a 5-2 record, including a pair of victories over ranked foes No. 19 Missouri (3-2) and No. 18 USC (3-1). It marks only the third time in school history that UNI has knocked off at least two ranked opponents in the same season.
• This early success has UNI receiving 60 votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll. The Panthers are the second-highest team receiving votes not in the Top 25.
• Sophomore Karlie Taylor recorded 28 kills in a five-set match vs. No. 13 Kentucky. It marked the most kills in a match by a UNI Panther in 15 years since Molly O’Brien posted 29 kills vs. Creighton in the 2002 season.
SCOUTING MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY (2-4)
• The Roos head into their home invitational with a 2-4 record after dropping three straight matches at the Cougar Classic at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
• Sophomore outside hitter Alicia Harrington leads the attack with 3.10 kills/set to go along with 3.55 digs/set and 16 total blocks. Freshman setter Alli Schomers directs the offense with 6.55 assists/set, while sophomore middle blocker Mykal Sadler is the most accurate hitter with a .336 attack perrcentage.
• Harrington was selected to the Preseason All-WAC Team following a WAC All-Freshman Team performance in 2016. She appeared in all 28 matches with 278 kills, while hitting .216 and averaging 2.78 kills per set.
SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA (2-4)
• The Coyotes are off to a 2-4 start this fall, picking up straight-set wins against Abilene Christian and Western Carolina. USD has only played in three-set matches through six contests, falling in straight sets in all four of their losses, including a setback to No. 22 Utah at the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic.
• One year removed from a Summit League championship, South Dakota returns four starters from last year’s team, which won a program-record 25 matches and finished 13-3 in the Summit. Senior Brittany Jessen is a two-time Summit League Setter of the Year who stands with over 3,800 assists, second-most in program history. Elizabeth Loschen is the reigning Summit League Freshman of the Year after finishing second on the team in kills with 252 and third in blocks with 46.
• The Coyotes are hitting .187 as a team through six matches, led by Hayley Dotseth’s 3.72 kills/set. Jessen has 187 assists from the setter position, and Anne Rasmussen guides the back row with a team-high 4.33 digs/set.
ACE IN THE HOLE
Rutgers volleyball is listed prominently in the latest NCAA statistics rankings, coming in at 12th in NCAA Division I with 1.98 service aces per set through matches played on Sept. 4. The Scarlet Knights also lead the Big Ten in total aces with 45, a mark that ranks 17th in the nation.
Sophomore setter Megan Sharkey and sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic are the catalysts behind Rutgers’ serving success. Sharkey leads the squad with 12 aces, which ranks second in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally, including a career-high four in a single match opposite Buffalo last week. Miljevic has 10 aces through six matches, good for fifth in the conference and 71st in Division I.
The second set has proved to be the most important in all of the Scarlet Knights’ six matches this season. RU is 3-0 when winning the second set, and 0-3 when dropping it.
The Scarlet Knights opened the 2017 season with a tournament championship at the East Carolina Invitational. Following a loss to Georgia State, Rutgers rebounded with the first two victories of the season over William & Mary and the host Pirates. The Scarlet Knights opened the day with a 3-0 win over W&M (25-16, 25-19, 25-22) and clinched the tournament title by bouncing back from a lost first set to win 3-1 in the evening over host ECU (19-25, 27-25, 25-17, 25-22).
Freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik was named the ECU Invitational Most Valuable Player after averaging 4.30 kills/set, while sophomore setter Megan Sharkey (9.09 assists/set) and freshman outside hitter Yana Kamshilina (2.30 kills/set, 6 blocks, 19 digs) were selected to the All-Tournament Team.
Cieslik made an immediate impact and currently ranks near the top of all Big Ten players in hitting. The Rutgers rookie is ranked seventh this week in the B1G with 3.86 kills/set, and 14th with her .394 attack percentage. Cieslik is looking to make a third consecutive All-Tournament Team to start the season. After being named the ECU Invitational MVP, she made the Seton Hall Classic All-Tourrnament Team with 3.67 kills/set on a .424 hitting percentage, four service aces, 14 digs and eight blocks.
Head coach CJ Werneke and the Scarlet Knights have selected senior setter Talia Holze and sophomore libero Karysa Swackenberg as captains of the 2017 squad. Holze is now a two-time captain.
When the Scarlet Knights enter Big Ten play at the end of September, a gauntlet of nationally ranked talent awaits. The preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 rankings included eight programs from the Big Ten, including four in the Top 10.
Ranked programs included No. 4 Minnesota (with two first place votes), No. 5 Nebraska, No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan, No. 17 Michigan State, No. 21 Ohio State and No. 25 Purdue. Rutgers will host Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Penn State this season in the College Ave. Gym.
Seven Scarlet Knights were named Fall 2016 Academic All-Big Ten, including returners Brooke Enners, Meme Fletcher and Talia Holze. Additionally, four were named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, including Holze and Enners.
To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution. However, the Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.
Enners highlights the list by becoming one of 14 Scarlet Knights during the 2016-17 academic year to earn a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
The Rutgers volleyball team posted a perfect 1000 Academic Progress Rate (APR) for the fourth straight season in 2015-16, increasing the Scarlet Knights’ multi-year score to 1000 for the first time in program history. The multi-year score ranks in the 100th percentile across all sports and NCAA Division I volleyball.
The report is based on NCAA Division I APR data submitted by the institution for the 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. The APR is an annual scorecard of academic achievement calculated for all Division I sports teams nationally. The APR measures eligibility, graduation and retention each term and provides a clear picture of the academic performance for each team in every sport.
Rutgers will play twice on national television this season. Tune into the Big Ten Network on Friday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. for a match at Maryland, and on Friday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. for a trip to Indiana.
HAVE WE MET BEFORE?
The Scarlet Knights will add six new programs to their all-time opponent list as they cross paths with Georgia State, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri-Kansas City, Northern Iowa, South Dakota and William & Mary for the first time this season.
AROUND THE WORLD
The Scarlet Knights’ roster represents nine states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee and Texas. California and Texas lead the way with two roster entries apiece. RU also has international representation with a total of five players from Israel, Puerto Rico, Serbia or Russia.
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Press Release courtesy of Rutgers Athletics.