NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (Sept. 22, 2012) – In its BIG EAST opener, the Rutgers volleyball team suffered a loss, dropping the match to South Florida in four sets. The Scarlet Knights (14-2, 0-1 BIG EAST) fell by set scores of 25-21, 26-28, 25-27 and 21-25. It was just the second time that Rutgers has been defeated this season and the squad had not lost since Aug. 25 at Miami. It was the first home loss of the season for the Scarlet Knights.
“What a great environment we had today,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “It was a great first match in the BIG EAST. I thought we played well enough to win. It just seemed at times that South Florida wanted it a little bit more than we did. They earned that victory; we didn’t give it to them, so credit to them. We’ve just got to find a way to finish. We can’t dwell on today’s loss. We need to focus on tomorrow and see how we respond.”
The Scarlet Knights compiled a .136 hitting percentage and tallied 54 kills, 51 assists, 68 digs and 7.0 blocks. The team also recorded 10 service aces, its second-best mark in a match this season. The Bulls (9-5, 1-0 BIG EAST) notched a .228 hitting percentage with 64 kills, 60 assists, 81 digs and 14.0 team blocks. Rutgers moved to 5-6 all time against South Florida.
In a tightly contested match, Rutgers started out strong. The first set was tied late at 19-19. The Scarlet Knights then went on a 5-0 run with freshman Ronnie Komisarek (San Mateo, Calif.) at the serve. Rutgers didn’t look back and closed out the set with two kills each from freshmen Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) and Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.).
The remaining sets were back-and-forth. The Scarlet Knights and the Bulls were tied at 26-26 in the second game, before South Florida notched the victory. The third stanza was much of the same, tied at 25-25 late before the Bulls pulled it out with two late points. Rutgers trailed most of the fourth set and couldn’t mount the comeback.
Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) earned her seventh-straight double-double and her 11th of the season with 50 assists and 10 digs. It was her seventh match with 50 or more assists in the 2012 campaign.
Lassa led the offensive charge with 22 kills on a .268 hitting percentage, one kill shy of her career-high. Junior Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) led the squad defensively with 16 digs.
Senior Kylie Orr (Kettering, Ohio) moved over 400 career kills in the loss, notching 10 to give her 404. Schmid now has over 200 career kills in her freshman season, tallying nine against the Bulls to give her 208.
The Scarlet Knights will continue BIG EAST play tomorrow, Sept. 23, in College Ave. Gym hosting Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. The contest will be Volleyball Camper Appreciation Day, with all campers wearing their t-shirts and the first 50 receiving a free volleyball. The team will have an autograph signing for campers on the court after the match.
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