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Rutgers volleyball looks for 1st win

The Rutgers volleyball team's .099 hitting percentage ranks 10th in the Big Ten. – Photo by Rutgers Volleyball / Twitter

The Rutgers volleyball team continues its season this Friday and Saturday with a series of home games against Indiana. After starting its season with back-to-back losses against Northwestern, the Scarlet Knights (0-2, 0-2) look to regroup and bounce back this weekend. 

Friday's contest marked the debut of five Rutgers student-athletes, including junior middle blocker Shealyn McNamara, who finished with six kills.

Also debuting was true freshman libero Madyson Chitty, who ended with 12 digs, and true freshman middle blocker Tina Grkovic, who ended with two blocks.

"I do love to learn," McNamara said before the season. "That's been the biggest motivator. I feel like life is the best teacher too. There is so much that you can get out of every single day, but it is up to you to see the lessons that are being presented to you and learn from them. Working through adversity has been the biggest catalyst to being my best self."

Backing the newly debuted will be senior right-side hitters Beka Kojadinovic and Kamila Cieslik, both of whom ended Friday with eight and seven kills, respectively. On Saturday, Kojadinovic led the Knights on defense as well, garnering eight digs and supplementing Grkovic's three blocks.

Junior setter Inna Balyko comes into this weekend's series on the verge of making Rutgers history. Her 14 assists on Friday and 19 on Saturday pushed her total to 1,981. She could crack the 2,000 assist mark this weekend.

Last weekend marked the debut of Knights head volleyball coach Caitlin Schweihofer, who was chosen for the position a little more than a week ago. As head coach at Northeastern last season, Schweihofer's Huskies captured their best hitting percentage since 2008 and earned three all-conference honors while finishing the season ranked among the top three in their conference in hitting percentage, kills, digs and assists.

She looks to get Rutgers' volleyball program off to a better start this weekend.

To do so, Schweihofer and the Knights will have to get past the Hoosiers (0-2, 0-2), which lost both games in their back-to-back series last weekend as well. Although they played No. 5 Nebraska, Indiana's defense held its opponent to an overall 0.268 hitting percentage. Rutgers will have to utilize its middle and front level hitting much better than it did against the Wildcats and ramp up its offense to get past the Hoosier backline.

Similar to the Knights, last week was also the Big Ten debut of four true freshmen Indiana student-athletes.

Although both teams are at the bottom of the Big Ten, they will look to begin their ascents up the standings this weekend.

"It's about resiliency," said Hoosiers head volleyball coach Steve Aird. "It's such a good conference that there's nowhere to hide."

For updates on the Rutgers volleyball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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