The Rutgers women's volleyball team continued its season this Friday and Saturday with a series of home games against Purdue. After falling on both occasions last week against Penn State, the Scarlet Knights (2-14, 2-14) were unable to regroup and lost both matches to the No. 10 Boilermakers (11-5, 11-5). Facing their third nationally ranked opponent in four weeks, Rutgers won a set in the first matchup but lost the second day in straight sets.
On Friday, the Knights fell to Purdue in a series of close sets. The first set, which proved to be the tightest contest, saw seven lead changes between the two opponents. After 10 ties, the score was even at 21-21, when the Boilermakers rallied and scored 4 straight points to close out Rutgers. The next set was more of the same, with Purdue registering 7 straight points at the end to win the set.
The third set was the tightest of the contest and saw late drama, with both teams tied at 24. Senior right-side hitter Beka Kojadinovic, who had a 0.308 hitting percentage, scored a last-second kill to give the Knights the win. Although she continued her excellent play with eight more kills in the final set, Rutgers was unable to capitalize and lost the fourth set and, with it, the match.
The following day was a similar contest, as the Knights lost in three quick sets to the Boilermakers. The first set proved to be the only set in which Purdue hit more than a 0.300 hitting percentage, winning 25-15. The second set was the closest of the match as Rutgers, led once again by Kojadinovic, gave the Knights the chance to pull within 3 points multiple times. The Boilermakers, though, captured the final 2 points to seal the round for Purdue.
The third and final set was a blowout, with the Boilermakers jumping out ahead to a 17-4 lead. Though Rutgers made several pushes, Purdue went on to win the set 25-12.
On Friday, Kojadinovic and junior outside hitter Anastasiia Maksimova both scored double-digits in kills, while also each adding two aces. Junior setter Inna Balyko paced the team with 50 assists, her second-highest total of the season and the third-most in a single match in the program's history.
Kojadinovic, junior middle blocker Shealyn McNamara and freshman middle blocker Tina Grkovic each had two blocks. Freshman libero/defensive specialist Madyson Chitty achieved 19 digs, the most by any Knight this season and a season-high for her.
On Saturday, Kojadinovic continued her good play with a team-high eight kills and 11 digs, while Balyko followed suit with 21 assists. McNamara and freshman outside hitter Cansu Günaydin, in just her third-set appearance, each recorded three blocks as well.
The victory in the third set on Friday marked just the second set win over a top ten nationally ranked team this season. This is the first season where Rutgers has won a set over more than one top ten Big Ten team. The team looks to build on this next week in Maryland, where the Knights will play the Terrapins (4-12, 4-12).
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