PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Sept. 14, 2012) – For the seventh time in its last nine matches, the Rutgers volleyball team won in straight sets, sweeping Radford in its opener of the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational, hosted by Penn. The Scarlet Knights won three close sets by scores of 25-22, 25-21 and 25-23.
“We played a really good team that didn’t let up,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “They made us play at a high level. I was a little disappointed with our unforced errors. Despite that, we still found a way to win.”
Rutgers improved to 12-1 on the season and has won 10 straight matches, with the last loss coming on Aug. 25 at Miami. The squad moved to 5-0 in neutral site contests and 3-0 all-time against the Highlanders (7-7).
Radford started off with a 4-0 lead in the opening game. After the set was tied at 10, Rutgers went on a 5-0 run led by three kills from freshman Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.). The second set was tied at 20 before Schmid and classmate Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) each contributed two kills late to close it out.
Despite trailing 19-13 in the deciding set, the Scarlet Knights rallied and went on a 6-0 run to tie it up. The set went back and forth late, but Rutgers held on with kills from Schmid, Lassa, senior Alex Jones (Chesapeake, Va.) and classmate Kylie Orr (Kettering, Ohio).
In a match that the Scarlet Knights compiled just a .183 hitting percentage, the defense stepped up. Rutgers tied a season-high with 78 digs, which the team also recorded against Wofford on Aug. 28. Freshman Ali Schroeter (Bakersfield, Calif.) got the start at libero, notching a career and match-high 23 digs.
Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) commanded the offense with 41 assists, marking the eighth time this season she had 40 or more in a contest. She also matched her season high of 15 kills, recording her eighth double-double of the season.
Lassa showed off her defensive skills, equaling her career-high with her third 13-kill performance of the season. She also racked up 11 kills for her third double-double of the campaign. Schmid led the offensive charge with 15 kills on a .323 hitting percentage.
The Scarlet Knights will be back in action on Saturday, taking on George Mason at 1 p.m. and the host Penn Quakers at 5 p.m.
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