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Rutgers women's volleyball splits series with Indiana

Junior outside hitter Anastasiia Maksimova had four kills in the opening set against Indiana.  – Photo by Rutgers Volleyball / Twitter

In its second series of the season, the Rutgers women’s volleyball team split matches against Indiana. The weekend series took place at the College Avenue Gymnasium in New Brunswick.

The opening match of the series on Friday was the first on the Banks this season and the first victory for first-year women's volleyball head coach Caitlin Schweihofer. The Scarlet Knights (1-3,1-3) gave up the first set 25-18. From then on, Rutgers never looked back on its route to a 3-1 victory. 

The Knights won the following set 25-17 off of five service aces from five different players. Although the set was once tied at 5, a 12-3 run from Rutgers changed the course of the frame. 

The third set provided more back and forth scoring action, and neither team built a lead larger than 3 for the entirety of the set. Junior outside hitter Anastasiia Maksimova registered four kills on the Knights’ path to a 25-19 victory. As a team, Rutgers had six blocks and ended the frame on a 5-2 run. 

Coming into the fourth set without the lead, the Hoosiers (1-3, 1-3) kept things close until the Knights broke the fifth tie of the set at 13. From there, junior setter Inna Balyko notched back-to-back aces, and Rutgers was able to close the game out.

The first match of the weekend was the Knights’ first victory against Indiana in 12 previous matches.

Balyko registered a double-double with 35 assists and 15 digs, her 20th career double-double. Balyko notched 2,000 career assists, becoming the seventh Rutgers player to do so and the first to accomplish the feat since 2012.

Redshirt junior middle blocker Shealyn McNamara found herself with nine blocks, good for her career-high.

The Knights lost the second matchup 3-1. They dropped the first two sets 25-19 and 25-15, respectively. During the opening set, Maksimova had four kills. In the first set, Rutgers was down by 8 points and managed to bring it to 18-16, until the Hoosiers claimed victory.

Following that set, the Knights kept it close early, trailing by 1 point but later giving up a 7-2 run that spelled defeat for the second straight set.

Trying to fight back from a 2-0 deficit, Rutgers limited the Big Ten rival to less than 10 points for the first time in program history, winning the third set 25-9.

After the strong defensive showing, the Knights went up 6-1 in the fourth set. Their lead grew to 7 points, but Indiana quickly battled back, with an 8-2 run at the end of the set giving them the victory.

Senior right-side hitter Beka Kojadinovic led Rutgers in three categories, logging 15 kills, two aces and 12 digs. She captured her first double-double of the season and the eighth of her career. Balyko also had a double-double, with 43 assists and 11 digs.

Freshman middle blocker Tina Grkovic registered six blocks, the best of her young collegiate career.

After the game, senior right-side hitter Kamila Cieslik discussed the teamwork that the team showed throughout the series.

“Our whole team worked together whether you were on the court the whole time, if you are subbing in for one rotation or if you are on the bench,” said Cieslik.

The Knights take the court this Friday for a two-match road series against Wisconsin. The Badgers (4-0, 4-0) are coming off a sweep against Illinois. In the first matches of its season, Wisconsin didn’t drop a single set against No. 13 Purdue.

For more updates on the Rutgers women's volleyball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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