NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (Sept. 23, 2012) – In its second conference matchup of the season, the Rutgers volleyball team fell to Pittsburgh, 3-2, in College Ave. Gym on Sunday. Despite erasing a 2-0 deficit, the Scarlet Knights lost by set scores of 31-33, 17-25, 25-23, 25-17 and 11-15. It was the first five-set loss of the season for Rutgers, which had previously been 5-0 in those matches.
The Scarlet Knights (14-3, 0-2 BIG EAST) compiled a .221 hitting percentage, with 64 kills, 58 assists, 89 digs and 7.0 team blocks. Pittsburgh (10-6, 1-1 BIG EAST) hit .227 while compiling 64 kills, 61 assists, 88 digs and 6.0 blocks.
“We’ve just got to be more consistent,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “I think in the last two matches against USF and Pittsburgh, we let both teams dictate our style of play. We just need to be who we are and forget about who is across the net and what they’re doing or what they’re not doing. We take away that we’ve got a lot of fight. We’re not going away. It didn’t go our way, but it shows a lot of character and a lot of will to come back in that fashion.”
Four players finished with 12 or more kills for Rutgers. Freshmen Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) each compiled 18. Lassa now has more than 200 kills for her career, sitting at 204. She gained her sixth double-double of the 2012 campaign, posting 14 digs.
Senior Alex Jones (Chesapeake, Va.) led the squad with a .367 hitting percentage while notching 15 kills. Defensively, junior Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) had a career-best in digs, tallying 31. Her previous high was 30, which she set against Central Connecticut State on Oct. 30, 2011 when she played for Quinnipiac. Freshman Adriana McLamb (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) totaled 12 digs, passing her previous best of 10 against Wofford on Aug. 24.
Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) continued her double-double streak, earning her eighth-straight and 12th of the season with 55 assists and 14 digs. It was also her eighth match this season with 50 or more assists.
Rutgers was down 21-17 in the first set, but surged with the help of three kills from Jones. After the set was tied at 22, it was back-and-forth and the Scarlet Knights couldn’t find a way to close out the Panthers, who won late. Rutgers fell behind early in the second game and couldn’t recover, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead in the contest.
In the third stanza, Rutgers rebounded and took a close set with the help of five kills from Jones in the game. The Scarlet Knights were down 3-0 in the fourth, before going on an 8-0 run. The team wouldn’t look back and would take the set handily as Schmid notched six kills to bring on a deciding game. Rutgers couldn’t hold its momentum in the fifth set, falling behind 8-3 early and wasn’t able to catch the Panthers.
Next, Rutgers is scheduled to play at Villanova on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. The Scarlet Knights will not return home until an Oct. 12 contest with Syracuse at 6 p.m.
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