PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Aug. 30, 2012) – The Rutgers volleyball team will play at home for the first time this season, hosting the Rutgers Invitational from Aug. 31 – Sept. 1. Iona, New Hampshire and Rhode Island will visit College Ave. Gym for the two-day round-robin tournament. There will be six matches played between the two days, with the Scarlet Knights opening against Iona at 10 a.m. on Friday.
“There’s nothing like playing in The Barn,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “We seem to play well at home. Anytime you’re in your comfort zone and your environment, you tend to play a little bit more confident and a little bit more at ease, which should lead to some success.”
Rutgers (3-1) will host New Hampshire at 7 p.m. Friday, which will be broadcast on ScarletKnights.com via RVision presented by AT&T. The Scarlet Knights are scheduled to finish the tournament with a match against Rhode Island at 3 p.m. on Saturday. All of the games can be followed on GameTracker. Links and a tournament schedule can be found on the tournament central page.
RU is coming off another five-set victory with a win over Fordham in Bronx, N.Y., Wednesday. The two teams alternated wins before Rutgers pulled out a close deciding set, 16-14. This is the first time since 2009 that each of the Scarlet Knights’ first three wins of the season was picked up in five games.
Rutgers and Iona have never met, and the Gaels (2-2) are coming off back-to-back wins over Connecticut and NJIT. Iona is under the direction of second-year head coach Jon Killingbeck. The team brought back six starters from a season ago when the team finished sixth (9-9) in the MAAC and 12-14 overall.
The Scarlet Knights hold a 5-1 record all-time against New Hampshire, which is 1-3 and has dropped three straight matches to Maryland, Villanova and Northeastern. New Hampshire opened the season with a victory over Robert Morris. Most recently, the teams met in 2010 when the Scarlet Knights swept UNH in three sets. RU has won five in a row over the Wildcats after losing its first match with them on Sept. 26, 1998. UNH went 10-20 overall and 8-4 in the America East to finish second in the conference in 2011. Head coach Jill Hirschinger is in her 17th season.
The Rhode Island Rams (0-3) are coming off three losses at Colorado State’s Rams Volleyball Rocky Mountain Invite. Rutgers is 8-17 all-time against Rhode Island. The last meeting was on Sept. 17, 2004 at the URI Invitational where Rutgers won in three sets. Rhode Island is coached by Bob Schneck, who is in his 32nd season at the helm and led his squad to a 7-8 record in the Atlantic 10 and 15-15 overall in 2011. The team returned four starters from 2011.
Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) currently leads the BIG EAST with 184 assists and is second with a 10.22 average per set. Freshman Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) is tied for the BIG EAST lead with a .429 hitting percentage, while classmate Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) is tied for second place in the conference with 4.25 kills per set. Schmid recorded a .739 hitting percentage in the win over Fordham, the best single-game mark in the BIG EAST this season and the highest for Rutgers since senior Alex Jones (Chesapeake, Va.) totaled a .786 percentage, converting on 11 of 14 attempts against Villanova on Oct. 28, 2011.
Following the tournament, the Scarlet Knights stay at home and continue play in College Ave. Gym on Sept. 4, taking on Lafayette at 7 p.m.
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