PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Sept. 27, 2012) – Rutgers is scheduled to continue conference play on the road with two matches this weekend. The Scarlet Knights will first travel to Villanova, Pa., for a contest with the Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. before traveling to Washington, D.C., to take on Georgetown on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.
“It’s exciting,” said head coach CJ Werneke. “We’re looking forward to getting some road victories in the BIG EAST. It’s one of our goals to make the BIG EAST Tournament. You have to win some away matches and this is our first opportunity to do so.”
The Wildcats (5-10, 0-2) come off two losses during the opening weekend of conference play. The squad won four out of five matches to start the season including a five-set win over New Hampshire, who Rutgers also played and downed in three sets. Villanova has lost six-straight matches, most recently to BIG EAST opponents Connecticut (Sept. 21) and St. John’s (Sept. 23). Offensively, Lauren Carpenter has led the Wildcats with a 151 kills (2.65/s). Emma Pettit leads the team with 321 assists (7.30/s), while Mariah Henley has notched 316 (5.54/s) digs on the defensive end, good for second overall in the conference. Gabby Pethokoukis leads the BIG EAST with 1.89 blocks per set in conference play. The BIG EAST opponent is led by sixth-year head coach Josh Steinbach.
The Scarlet Knights hold a 9-13 all-time record against Villanova. Last season, the Wildcats picked up a sweep over Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights lost by set scores of 13-25, 23-25 and 20-25. RU last beat Villanova on Oct. 15, 2005 in a sweep.
The Hoyas (6-9, 0-2) also dropped their first two conference matches, one to St. John’s in three sets (Sept. 21) and one to Connecticut in four sets (Sept. 23). Georgetown started the season with five wins and took six out of its first seven contests, including a win over George Mason in the form of a sweep. Rutgers also played the Patriots and was victorious in five sets. The Hoyas have lost eight-straight contests. Offensively, Georgetown is headed by Alex Johnson who has totaled a 4.15 kills per set mark, with 224 total. The offense is commanded by Haley Lowrance, who has dished out 11.33 per set (623 total). Defensively, Johnson also leads the squad with 3.76 digs per set. Georgetown is led by seventh-year head coach Arlisa Williams.
Rutgers is 25-16 all-time against the Hoyas, the most wins for the Scarlet Knights against any team (tied with Temple). Last season, the Scarlet Knights dropped a close contest, taking Georgetown to five sets, but falling in the deciding game (17-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-23 and 13-15). The Scarlet Knights last beat the Hoyas on Sept. 27, 2009 in three sets.
The Scarlet Knights opened BIG EAST play with two setbacks at home, first to USF (Sept. 22) and then to Pittsburgh (Sept. 23). In its BIG EAST opener, Rutgers dropped the match to South Florida in four sets. The Scarlet Knights fell by set scores of 25-21, 26-28, 25-27 and 21-25. Previously, the squad had not lost since Aug. 25 at Miami. It was the first home loss of the season for the Scarlet Knights. In its second conference matchup of the season, the Rutgers volleyball team fell to Pittsburgh, 3-2, with 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.
Senior setter Stephanie Zielinski (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) ranked 18th in the NCAA through Sept. 23 with 11.55 assists per set. Freshman Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) ranked in 40th with a .384 hitting percentage.
Zielinski is closing in on 1,000 career digs, currently at 981. Classmate Alex Jones (Chesapeake, Va.) is nearing 800 career kills as she currently has 781. Junior Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) is closing in on 1,000 career digs, currently at 986. Junior Brittany Bozzini (Saratoga, Calif.) is two kills shy of 300 for her career.
Next, Rutgers is scheduled to continue road play, taking on Cincinnati on Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. and Louisville on Oct. 7 at noon. The Scarlet Knights will not return home until an Oct. 12 contest with Syracuse at 6 p.m.
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