SYRACUSE, N.Y. (September 6, 2013) – The Rutgers volleyball team dropped its first two matches of the Candlewood Suites Invitational hosted by Syracuse University Friday. RU fell to Oakland in the first match of the day in four sets (28-26, 23-25, 22-25, 17-25) and dropped a hard-fought five-set decision to tournament host, Syracuse, in the night cap by scores of 25-19, 24-26, 26-24, 25-27, 10-15.
With the defeats, the Scarlet Knights fall to 2-3 on the year.
Sophomore Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) led RU on the day with 32 kills and 17 digs. Lassa contributed 21 of her putdowns against Syracuse.
Fellow second-year player Ali Schroeter (Bakersfield, Cali.) came up with 34 digs in on the day, while junior Sofi Cucuz (Crown Point, Ind.) also turned in a solid performance on the day, recording 23 total kills.
Sophomore Mikaela Matthews (San Diego, Calif.) had a career night against the Orange, putting down 10 attempts on 23 swings to finish the game with a .348 hitting percentage.
In their first match of the day, the Scarlet Knights dropped a four-set decision to the Oakland Grizzles by scores of 28-26, 23-25, 22-25, 17-25.
Freshman Lauren Cloyd (Champaign, Ill.), Cucuz and Lassa each finished with 11 kills to lead RU in the loss. Lassa added 11 digs for her first double-double of the season and the 18th of her career and also recorded four blocks.
Cloyd continued her efficient hitting streak to open her rookie campaign, finishing the match with .360 clip by terminating 11 of her 25 attempts.
Schroeter led the Scarlet Knights on the defensive end with a match-high 23 digs, while junior setter Nicole Bayer (Concord, Ohio) handed out 39 assists and came up with eight digs.
As a team, RU concluded the match with a .155 hitting percentage and recorded their best offensive performance in the second set when the team hit .242.
Freshman Micaela Anderson (La Canada, Calif.) recorded five of her total seven kills in the first set alone to help guide the Scarlet Knights to their only set victory.
The opening frame began as a back-and-forth affair, with neither team leading by more than two points. The Grizzlies took the first three-point lead of the set at 13-10 following consecutive RU unforced errors, but the Scarlet Knights battled back to eventually knot the score at 17. Oakland gained an advantage, leading by two at 20-18, but Rutgers proceeded to rattle off four straight points to go ahead 22-20 after a double block by Rachel Andreassian (Fredericksburg, Texas) and Lassa. The Grizzlies stayed in it and soon tied the game at 22, but a kill by Lassa followed by an OU hitting error gave the Scarlet Knights game-point at 24-22. Oakland didn’t go down without a fight however, forcing two tied scores before consecutive kills by Anderson and Cloyd gave RU the 28-26 win.
Set two started similarly to the first with both teams keeping within one or two points of each other. It was not until the Grizzlies formed a 4-1 run to go in front 14-9, that either side was able to gain separation. The Scarlet Knights chipped away at the deficit over the following plays and soon tied the score at 20. Both sides exchanged points over the following minutes, but the Grizzles were able to out-score RU 4-2 to even the match at a set a piece.
The third set resulted in being the most tightly battled of all three, featuring 10 tied scores until late in the frame. In the closing minutes of the set however, Oakland was able to establish the largest lead for either team at 20-17. A kill from Megan Stephenson (Burbank, Calif.) followed by an ace by Wright brought RU within two at 23-21, but the Grizzlies out-scored the Scarlet Knights by a 3-1 margin for the win.
Oakland opened the final set with a 4-0 run, but RU was able to sideout and score three straight due to a kill and an ace by Lassa. The Scarlet Knights stayed within striking distance, until the Grizzlies put down three straight sets to open a 13-9 advantage. RU came within a single digit at 16-15, paced by the serving of Lassa and kills by Matthews and Cucuz, but could not get any closer, as OU finished the game and match on a 9-2 run.
Against Syracuse, Rutgers finished with a season-high .270 hitting percentage, despite the defeat.
Four Scarlet Knights finished with double-digit kills against the Orange. Lassa led the squad with 21, while Stephenson contributed 15, Cucuz had 12 and Matthews recorded 10.
Anna Sudbury (Tomahawk, Wis.) and Bayer each distributed 29 assists.
Syracuse was led by Nicolette Serratore's 20 kills.
The first set opened with both teams exchanging points, until Rutgers was able to mount a 4-0 run to take a 10-0 lead after an ace by Lassa. The Scarlet Knights maintained at least a two-point edge, until two unforced errors and a kill by Mokina Salkute enabled the Orange to tie the game at 16. Rutgers quickly rebounded; earning the side-out and scoring four unanswered points to take a 20-16 advantage. The hosts were able to come within two points at 20-18, but RU controlled the closing minutes of play for the six-point win.
Rutgers carried its momentum into the following frame, leading by as many as six points (8-2) early on. The hosts cut the deficit to four, but RU carried on and proceeded to score four consecutive points to establish an eight-point lead at 12-4. The Scarlet Knights maintained at least a five-point edge, until the Orange rallied back by way of a 4-0 run to come within a single point at 20-19. A kill from Lassa broke the spurt, but Cuse managed to sideout on the next play and scored three straight to take its first lead (22-21) of the set. Rutgers soon responded on a kill by Cucuz and later tied the score at 24, but back-to-back kills by Syracuse’s Nicolette Serratore finished out the frame and evened the match.
The Scarlet Knights bounced back to win the third set, after capturing an early 7-2 lead. RU maintained separation for the majority of the first half, until Syracuse mounted a 5-0 run to tie the game at 14. Five tied scores proceeded to occur, before Rutgers rattled off four straight points with the scored tied at 19 to take a 23-19 lead. During the spurt, Wright connected on two aces. The Orange battled back, outscoring RU by a 5-1 margin to knot the set once again, this time at 24. A service error by Syracuse and ultimately a kill by Mikaela Matthews gave the Scarlet Knights the third-set victory.
In the fourth set, Cuse was able to lead by as many as five at 8-3, but the Scarlet Knights came back to make it a two-point game. The hosts kept at least a three-point advantage, until a 5-1 RU run made it a tie game at 16. Rutgers tied the score twice more before taking a two-point lead at 20-18, but Syracuse rallied to take its own 22-20 edge. The Scarlet Knights came back to earn match point at 24-22, but the Orange scored five of the last six points for the win.
Rutgers was able to establish an early lead to open the deciding set, until the Orange forced two tied scores. With the frame tied at five, the Scarlet Knights proceeded to score four unanswered points to go ahead 9-5, paced by two kills by Lassa. Syracuse stormed ahead however and outscored RU, 10-1, to win both the set and the match.
The Scarlet Knights conclude play at the Candlewood Suites Invitational tomorrow with matches against Colorado and Stony Brook at 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively.
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