PISCATAWAY, N.J. (November 7, 2013) – The Rutgers volleyball team welcomes American Athletic Conference opponents UCF and USF Friday, Nov. 8 and Sunday, Nov. 10, respectively, to start a five-game homestand. The stretch marks the most consecutive games RU will host at the College Ave Gym, as the Scarlet Knights have had just five total home games so far this season.
RU is coming off its second-to-last road trip of the year. Rutgers traveled to Texas last weekend and fell to both SMU (11/1) and Houston (11/3). Sophomore outside hitter Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) led the way over the two matches with 19 kills and 16 digs. Against the Cougars, Lassa recorded her 11th double-double of the year, finishing with 12 kills and 11 digs in the four-set loss.
Sophomore libero Ali Schroeter (Bakersfield, Calif.) recorded a notable performance against the Cougars as well, as the California native’s 11 digs made her the Rutgers single-season dig record holder. Schroeter has come up with 474 total digs this season.
The Knights enter Friday’s contest with a 16-7 overall record and a 7-3 mark in AAC play. UCF is also on a three-game winning streak and is currently tied for third in the conference standings with USF.
UCF ranks at the top of several statistical categories in the AAC. The Knights lead the league in assists (12.71/set), are second in hitting percentage (.236), opponent hitting percentage (.171), blocks (2.61/set) and kills (13.48/set) and third in digs (15.60/set).
The Knights are led by redshirt-senior outside hitter Angelica Crump’s 294 total kills. Crump is averaging 3.56 kills/set, good for second in the American. Junior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden, who is second on the team behind Crump with 284 kills, leads the league in hitting percentage with a .418 mark.
RU is 2-1 all-time against the Knights after suffering its first loss to UCF earlier this season in Orlando (21-25, 11-25, 19-25) on Oct. 6.
Currently, the Bulls own a 13-11 overall record and are 7-3 in American games. Two of USF’s three conference losses are a result of straight-set losses to in-state rival UCF. Most recently, the Bulls fell to the Knights on Nov. 1 to snap a five-game winning streak. USF is currently tied for third in the AAC standings with UCF. The Bulls will face UConn in Storrs, Conn. on Nov. 8 before coming to “The Barn.”
The Bulls prove to be one of the best all-around defensive teams in the American as they lead the conference in blocks (2.67/set) and are second in digs (16.87/set). Senior middle Andrea Gomez-Rodriguez is a vital part of the Bulls’ defensive success, as she leads the conference in blocks with 1.39 rejections/set.
Offensively, sophomore outside Erin Fairs leads USF and the AAC with 3.66 kills/set. Fairs also leads the Bulls in digs with 381 on the year.
RU’s matchup against its long-time rival will be the 13th time the two teams face off in program history. The series is currently tied at 6-6 after RU dropped a straight-set decision (12-25, 17-25, 11-25) to USF in Tampa on Oct. 4.
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