PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Sept. 6, 2012) – The Scarlet Knights will travel to Norfolk, Va., for the Spartan Classic, hosted by Norfolk State. Rutgers starts the tournament with UNC-Wilmington on Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m. The squad will play Stetson (10 a.m.) and Norfolk State (6 p.m.) on Sept. 8. Rutgers has won five straight matches dating back to Aug. 29.
Rutgers has put together its best start to a season (7-1) since 1996 when the squad started 8-0. The Scarlet Knights are coming off an impressive performance in their first home stand of the season, winning the Rutgers Invitational with a 3-0 record and downing Lafayette in three sets. The squad is now 4-0 at home. Three of the last four wins for the Scarlet Knights have come in the form of a sweep. The team started by sweeping Iona and New Hampshire on Aug. 31 in the Rutgers Invitational before knocking off Lafayette in the same fashion in College Ave. Gym on Sept. 4.
Senior Kylie Orr (Kettering, Ohio) has tallied double-digit kills in five consecutive contests dating back to the win over Fordham (Aug. 29). She had a match-high 13 kills in the sweep of Lafayette (Sept. 4). Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) has notched four double-doubles this season, with the most recent coming in the win over Lafayette on Sept. 4 (33 assists, 10 digs). She also tallied double-doubles against New Hampshire (40 assists, 12 digs), Fordham (43 assists, 10 digs) and Wofford (62 assists, 14 digs).
A member of the Colonial Athletic Association, the UNCW Seahawks are 4-3 so far in their 2012 campaign. All four of the team’s victories have come in sweeps, including High Point, Delaware State, Long Island and Campbell. They are coming off of a 3-1 loss to Davidson on Sept. 1. Rutgers has never faced UNCW. Fourth-year head coach Amy Bambenek is at the helm. The squad is led offensively by Christi Laite (84 kills) and defensively by Haley Collins (65 digs).
Stetson has started the season with a 2-7 mark, earning wins over Alabama State (Aug. 25) and Bethune-Cookman (Sept. 4). This will be the first meeting between the Scarlet Knights and the Hatters, which is in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They team is led by Tim Loesch, who is in his ninth season. Kaley Melville leads the offensive charge with 89 kills, while Monique Russell has collected 164 digs defensively.
Under the direction of third-year interim head coach Brandon Duvall, the host Spartans are coming off of a win over Providence on Sept. 1. The MEAC team also picked up a win over Navy on Aug. 25. Rutgers holds a 1-0 all-time record with the Spartans, as the teams met on Sept. 14, 2007, when Rutgers recorded a sweep over Norfolk State. The Spartans are led by Charlotte Armstead (83 kills) and Noelle Eagles (101 digs).
Following the tournament, the Scarlet Knights will travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Rutgers is 10-3 all-time against the Mountain Hawks.
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