PISCATAWAY, N.J. (October 31, 2013) – The Rutgers volleyball team will begin its second round of matchups against American Athletic Conference opponents this weekend against Texas schools SMU and Houston. The Scarlet Knights face-off against SMU in Dallas on Friday, Nov. 1 and will then match up against Houston on Sunday, Nov. 3. Rutgers has already faced each AAC rival once and is still in search of its first conference win of the year.
Most recently, RU welcomed Louisville and Cincinnati to “The Barn” on Oct. 25 and 27, respectively. The Scarlet Knights battled the undefeated Cardinals to a four-set loss before dropping a five-set decision to the Bearcats. Sophomore outside hitter Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) notched her 10th double-double of the year against Cincinnati, contributing a team-high 15 kills, while adding 10 digs.
SMU comes into Friday’s match with a 14-8 overall record and a 6-3 conference mark, making them tied for third in the AAC standings. The Mustangs are currently on a two-game winning streak, after picking up home wins over UCF and Houston.
Junior outside hitter Caroline Young leads SMU with 279 kills, while sophomore setter Avery Acker guides the offense, having dished out 836 helpers. Young also leads the AAC in aces/set with .035 average. SMU boasts one of the best offensive teams in the league, as the Cougars are third in the American in hitting percentage (.230), kills (13.23/set) and assists (12.29/set).
Rutgers faced the Mustangs for the first time ever in program history on Sept. 29 at the College Ave. Gym and dropped a four-set decision. The Scarlet Knights picked up a 25-23 set-one win before dropping the next three frames 17-25, 17-25 and 15-25.
Lassa recorded a double-double of 12 kills and 10 digs to lead RU in the loss, while sophomore libero Ali Schroeter (Bakersfield, Calif.) finished with a match-high 20 digs. SMU was led by Caroline Young’s double-double of 17 kills and 15 digs.
Houston currently owns a 13-11 record and a 5-4 AAC mark. The Cougars will host UConn at the Athletics/Alumni Center on Friday at 7 p.m. before welcoming the Scarlet Knights on Sunday. Presently, Houston is one game back of a third place tie in the AAC and two games ahead of a 3-6 Memphis team.
Freshman OH Sarita Mikals leads Houston with 3.28 kills per set and is second on the squad with 220 digs. As a team, the Cougars lead the AAC with 1.44 service aces/set.
RU looks to pick up its first win against Houston, as the Cougars have won both matches in the series. On Sept. 27, the Scarlet Knights were swept by Houston in New Brunswick. Lassa tied with classmate Mikaela Matthews (San Diego, Calif.) for the team-lead in kills, as they each recorded eight putdowns. Matthews finished the match with a .417 hitting percentage, recording her eight kills on 12 attempts. The Cougars were led by Emily Howard’s 12 kills.
In the teams’ first-ever meeting, the Cougars also came away with a straight-set victory in 1984.
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