PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Sept. 17, 2012) – Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was recognized as the BIG EAST Player of the Week, while freshman Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) garnered conference Freshman of the Week accolades, the league announced Monday. Rutgers has had a student-athlete on the BIG EAST Honor Roll each week since the start of the season and is the first squad to take both honors in the same week this year.
“I think both have been very steady and consistent,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “They have done a nice job fine-tuning their skills and it’s good to see that going into BIG EAST play.”
This marks the second time that Zielinski was honored by the conference this season and the fifth time in her career. It is the first time she has been named Player of the Week. Schmid earned Weekly Honor Roll recognition on Sept. 10 and this is the first time she has been tabbed Freshman of the Week.
A setter, Zielinski played an integral role in the team’s 4-0 week with wins over Lehigh, Radford, George Mason and Penn. Zielinski had a double-double in assists and digs in each match. She went over 50 assists on three occasions, with a high of 57 against Penn. Zielinski also performed on the defensive end, going over 20 digs twice, including a career-high 28 against the Quakers. The senior also had nine blocks. She averaged 12.00 assists per set. She currently leads the conference with 11.53 assists per set and has contributed to Rutgers being ranked second in the league with 13.02 assists per set.
“Stephanie’s defensive play has risen,” said Werneke. “She’s doing a great job of executing and making good decisions.”
Schmid had a big week and was named the Penn Invitational Tournament MVP for her performance. She had double-digit kills in each match, including 64 total through the four contests. The freshman hit .324 in the four matches, and had a career-high 20 kills in the win over Penn to secure the Penn Invitational championship. She also totaled 16 blocks, including a career-best of five against Lehigh. Schmid tops the BIG EAST with a .409 hitting percentage and has helped the Scarlet Knights to a mark of 14.05 kills per set, second in the conference.
“Even with people planning for (Schmid), she still gets it done,” said Werneke. “She hits at such a high percentage and therefore is able to get kills.”
The Scarlet Knights will begin BIG EAST play at the College Ave. Gym against South Florida on Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. Rutgers holds a 5-5 record all-time against the Bulls. The first 100 fans to the contest will receive a free “Blackout” t-shirt.
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