Photo Credit: Christopher Shannon

Rutgers women's volleyball falls to two Top 10 opponents

There is an old adage in sports that if you are an underdog looking to upset a top team, you have to limit your mistakes.  The Rutgers women's volleyball team found out the truth behind that adage the hard way, falling to two top-10 opponents over the weekend.  The Scarlet Knights hit a combined .082 over the weekends' two matches on their way to dropping both matches by identical 3-0 scores. Set scores were 25-13, 26-24, and 25-10 against No. 3 Wisconsin, and 25-11, 25-19, and 26-24 against No. 9 Minnesota.

Errors and Wisconsin Blocks Badger Knights

Rutgers found themselves in a deep hole early against Wisconsin in set one.  Four Badger blocks were an integral part of an early onslaught in that put the Scarlet Knights in an 8-0 hole.  Rutgers would get as close as seven on two occasions, at 9-2 and 14-7, but Wisconsin's block and eight attack errors, leading to a -.167 attack percentage, would ultimately lead to a 25-13 set one score.

The Scarlet Knights were able to hang with the Badgers throughout set two, even holding a slim, two-point lead on two occasions.  However, a service error and a Wisconsin block ultimately ended the set in, 26-24, favor of the Badgers.

Set three once again belonged to Wisconsin.  The Badgers led by 10 midway through the set, at 16-6, and extended that lead to 14 late in the set, at 20-6.  RU would only muster four more points after that and Wisconsin would close out the set, and match, with a 25-10 win.

Statistically, Rutgers was led by Taylor Humphrey and Alissa Kinkela's seven kills, Lauren DeLo's nine assists on offense and Lexi Visintine's eight digs on defense.  As a team, Rutgers recorded six blocks, compared to Wisconsin's nine, and the Scarlet Knights hit .065, compared to the Badgers' .323.

Minnesota Spoils Rutgers' Senior Day

Rutgers was able to stay close to Minnesota early in set one.  However, after the Scarlet Knights pulled to within two, at 7-5, the Golden Gophers used a 12-6 run to close out the set.  Rutgers committed 12 errors in the set on their way to a dismal -.200 hitting percentage.

The Scarlet Knights put up more of a fight in set two staying as close as one point to the Gophers early on, however a 9-3 run put Minnesota up 15-8 midway through the set.  Rutgers would then go on an 10-7 run to get as close as 22-18 late, but Minnesota would close out the set by scoring three of the last four points to establish the final 25-19 set score.  Rutgers recorded its best single set hitting percentage of the weekend during this set, hitting .370, however Minnesota hit .450 to still outpace the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers had a 3-point lead late in set three, holding a 22-19 lead on one point.  However, their opponent's block and the Scarlet Knights' own errors were once again their undoing as the team from the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" eventually took the deciding set 26-24.

Against Minnesota, Rutgers was led by Alissa Kinkela's 11 kills, Alyssa Nayar's 14 assists on offense and Madyson Chitty's 12 digs on defense.  As a team, the Scarlet Knights were out blocked by Minnesota 13-4, and was, also, out hit by the Gophers .244 to .099.

The Minnesota match concludes the home portion of Rutgers' schedule, but the Scarlet Knights will travel to Michigan on Wednesday and Friday to compete against Michigan State and Michigan to conclude their season.

Christopher Shannon