PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Aug. 23, 2012) – The Rutgers volleyball program is set to begin its 36th season at the Hurricane Invitational, hosted by Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The Scarlet Knights are scheduled to play three games in two days, beginning with Samford (10 a.m.) and Wofford (4:30 p.m.) on Friday, Aug. 24. RU will take on the host Miami Hurricanes at 1 p.m. on Aug. 25. Rutgers has never faced Samford or Wofford.
“To be considered one of the best, you have to play the best,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “Let’s see where we’re at. It’s a good challenge for us. It’s a good measuring stick for us. We’ll know more about ourselves after the weekend.”
Rutgers returns eight players from the 2011 season, including five starters, its assists leader Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (1,151) and its hitting percentage leader Alex Jones (Chesapeake, Va.) (.383). The Scarlet Knights bring back 58 percent of kills, 60 percent of attacks, 95 percent of assists, 63 percent of aces, 63 percent of digs and 59 percent of blocks from 2011.
Rutgers added nine freshmen to the 2012 roster. Werneke looked to add depth to a roster plagued by injuries in 2011. On top of adding depth, Werneke also added experience with three transfers, junior Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) and two sophomores Rachel Andreassian (Fredericksburg, Texas) and Nicole Bayer (Concord, Ohio). Wright played in every set for the Quinnipiac for two seasons, leading the team with 426 digs as a sophomore. Andreassian played in four matches for UNA as a freshman, tallying a .389 hitting percentage. Bayer led Niagara with 1,228 assists at 11.37 per set. She helped the team to the NCAA Tournament and was 18th in the nation in assists per set.
Samford also opens its 2012 slate with the Hurricane Invitational. Led by fifth-year coach Dex Schroeder (88-41), Samford went 29-5 last season and won the Southern Conference North Division and conference tournament with a 13-3 record before going on to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs return all seven starters from last season. Samford was picked to defend its North Division title in 2012 as the SoCon released its preseason volleyball coaches’ poll. Werneke is a 1996 graduate of Samford.
Wofford is coming off of a 14-19 season that lead to finishing fifth in the SoCon South Division. Led by 11th-year coach Corey Helle, the Terriers return all six starters and the libero from the 2011 season.
The host Miami Hurricanes, picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference according to the preseason coaches’ poll, open their home tournament with Wofford after finishing 26-5 overall last year to make the NCAA Tournament, where they beat Northern Illinois. The squad lost just one non-conference game, compiling a second-place 16-4 record in the ACC. Head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, in her 12th season, lost four starters, but returns three and the libero to the 2012 team. The Hurricanes received votes in AVCA preseason coaches’ poll. The Scarlet Knights are 1-3 all-time against the Hurricanes and played them for the first time in 1980, as Miami took the victory in two sets. The only victory for RU was recorded in 1981, as Rutgers took the match in two sets.
To follow the game via live stats, click here. The games will not show up until the match begins.
Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersAthletics) and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. For specific updates regarding women’s volleyball, follow the program on Twitter @RUvball.