Press Release courtesy of Rutgers Athletics
Following their first Big Ten road trip of the season, the Scarlet Knights return to College Ave. Gym for another pair of nationally ranked conference opponents in Michigan (receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll) on Friday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. Both matches will be streamed live on BTN Plus with Patrick Boyle on the play-by-play.
|Friday, Oct. 13 | 7 p.m.||Saturday, Oct. 14 | 7 p.m.|
|Michigan (12-6, 2-4)||No. 10 Michigan State (12-3, 5-1)|
|Live Stats||Live Stats|
|Live Video||Live Video|
|Dig Pink Night||Junior Knights Night|
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• Rutgers started Big Ten play 0-6 overall and 0-2 on the road with straight-set losses at Maryland and Ohio State last weekend.
• Freshman opposite hitter Kamila Cieslik posts a team-leading 3.00 kills/set and has paced RU the last three matches in digs (6, 11, 10). Cieslik was named to three All-Tournament Teams this preseason, including an MVP performance at the ECU Invitational. 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. She was also named to the Kangaroo Klassic All-Tournament Team with 21 kills, seven blocks and 18 digs. She served up at least one ace per match over that stretch with four total.
• Junior Sahbria McLetchie is Rutgers’ top outside hitter with 2.69 kills/set, including a team-best 2.50 through six conference matches. In back-to-back matches against Buffalo and Seton Hall, she recorded 17 and 19 kills, respectively, before picking up a total of 15 against Iowa and No. 14 Nebraska during Big Ten opening weekend, and a match-high 11 against Illinois last Sunday.
• Stepping into a starting role playing a new position, sophomore outside hitter Jillian Duffin has provided returns for those decisions over her last six matches. Duffin has 2.53 kills/set over that span while breaking double-figures in three of those contests. She produced 10 kills against the now-ranked No. 4 team in the nation, Nebraska, on Sept. 23, while also throwing down three blocks to give her eight total stuffs over her first six matches of the year.
• Sophomore setter Megan Sharkey is approaching another milestone after surpassing 1,000 career assists on Saturday at Ohio State. Now with 1,006 career assists, she is 77 away from cracking the Top 10 in all-time career assists in program history.
• Sophomore Jasmine Stackhouse leads the Scarlet Knights at the net defensively with 0.93 blocks/set, pacing a team that has outblocked opponents nine times this season. Rutgers is 4-5 in those contests. Stackhouse also leads the team in hitting percentage through six Big Ten games with a mark of .213.
• The service line will continue to loom important for Rutgers, who ranks seventh in the Big Ten with 1.44 overall service aces per set. Cieslik leads the team in the department with 25 aces, which ranks second overall in the conference, and has at least one ace in 14 of her last 15 matches. Rutgers is 5-1 when out-acing an opponent, and 0-11 when it does not.
• Sophomore middle blocker Stasa Miljevic, a transfer from Florida State, has at least five kills in eight matches this season along with a team-best .229 attack percentage, while also contributing to a total of 55 blocks.
• Sophomore libero Karysa Swackenberg has a team-high 2.75 digs/set.
SERIES AT A GLANCE
• Michigan holds a 3-0 record over Rutgers since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014. RU has dropped two straight-set matches at home in 2014 and 2016, while taking a set in Ann Arbor in a 3-1 loss in 2015. Last season, No. 22 ranked Michigan won on College Ave. 25-9, 25-22, 25-21 despite the Scarlet Knights outblocking the Wolverines, 15.5 – 9.0.
• No. 10 Michigan State has not dropped a match or set to Rutgers en route to a 7-0 record dating back to 2000. MSU is 6-0 in Big Ten matches.
• Michigan is guided by Mark Rosen in his 19th year. Rosen is the winningest coach in program history with 375 wins and has coached seven All-Americans with 15 NCAA Tournament appearances.
• Michigan State is helmed by 13th-year head coach Cathy George, who celebrated her 600th career win this season. The first woman to coach in the NCAA Division I Final Four in 1989, George has now amassed 609 victories while producing 22 AVCA All-Americans and 14 NCAA Tournament berths.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN (12-6, 2-4 Big Ten)
• The Wolverines fell from the AVCA Top 25 Poll for the first time this season following Big Ten losses at Iowa (3-1) and against No. 6 Minnesota at home (3-0). Michigan has been ranked as high as No. 16 in the preseason and Week 2 polls.
• Senior middle blocker Claire Kieffer-Wright (1.02 blocks/set, 2.72 kills/set) was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 2, and junior outside hitter Carly Skjodt (3.36 kills/set, .238%) earned Player of the Week honors on Sept. 18.
• Sophomore setter Mackenzi Welsh is ranked eighth in the Big Ten and 37th nationally with her 10.78 assists/set, while pacing an offense that hits .260.
SCOUTING #10 MICHIGAN STATE (12-3, 5-1 Big Ten)
• The Spartans have climbed into the AVCA Top 10 for the first time this season following two wins over Wisconsin (then Nos. 5 and 7) and a victory at then-No. 1 Nebraska in straight sets. This marked the first time MSU has scored wins over Top 5 team in back-to-back games in program history.
• Serving and defense is the name of the game for Michigan State, who ranks second in the conference in three key categories: 1.64 aces/set, 16.06 digs/set and a .153 opponents hitting percentage. The latter ranks 18th nationally.
• The defense is led by senior middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink, whose 1.58 blocks/set rank eighth in the nation and second in the conference.
• Redshirt senior Autumn Bailey received a rare Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week nod for an outside hitter on Sept. 25 following a 4.75 digs/set mark during the wins at Wisconsin and Minnesota. Bailey ranks second on the Spartans with 3.14 kills/set while hitting at a .245 clip.
Senior setter Talia Holze and redshirt senior Brooke Enners were inducted into the Delta Chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma Society, the first national scholar-athlete society to honor collegiate student-athletes who have excelled in both the classroom and in athletic competition. They recognized for their achievements during halftime of the Rutgers football game against Ohio State on Saturday, September 30 in an on-field ceremony.
To earn induction into the honor society, a student-athlete must attend a four-year accredited college or university that is an NCAA or NAIA member, achieve junior status, hold a minimum 3.4 GPA, have an endorsement from their head coach and be of good moral character. Both Holze and Enners were also members of the Fall 2016 Academic All-Big Ten Team and Big Ten Distinguished Scholars for earning GPA’s over 3.7. Enners completed the 2016-17 academic year with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
Rutgers volleyball debuted its brand new Taraflex playing surface at the College Ave. Gym upon the opening of 2017 Big Ten play against Iowa on Friday evening.
With the floor’s installation, the Scarlet Knights become one of just 26 NCAA Division I programs to utilize Gerflor USA’s Taraflex floor, the exact surface used at the last 11 Summer Olympic Games. The portable Taraflex floor at Rutgers, featuring RU’s signature colors, fonts and logos, is the only one of its kind among collegiate programs in the Northeast region and one of just nine to be used by a Power 5 institution across the nation.
With Big Ten play in full swing, 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.
Currently ranked programs include No. 2 Penn State, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 16 Purdue. Rutgers hosts Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Penn State – all of which were ranked in the Preseason Top 25 – this season in the College Ave. Gym.
Rutgers appears 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.
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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