More than a month removed since its Big Ten schedule release, the Rutgers volleyball team has now announced its non-conference dates, rounding out their 2021 matchups. The Scarlet Knights will be participating in four separate tournaments, including one at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Livingston campus.
Rutgers will open its season playing in the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida starting Aug. 27, facing South Florida and the Eagles in back-to-back matches. The Knights will then take on UMBC the following day to close out the tournament.
One week later, Rutgers will return to the Northeast to take part in the UConn tournament in Storrs, Connecticut. Matchups include playing against Central Connecticut State on Sept. 3 and a back-to-back match against Lafayette and the Huskies on Sept. 4.
The Knights will then come back to Piscataway for their first three home games of the 2021 season at the RAC. Rutgers will welcome NJIT and North Carolina State back-to-back on Sept. 10, after which it will take on Brown the next day.
Concluding the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Knights will travel to Clemson for a tournament. Rutgers will start the tournament with a pair of matchups against East Tennessee State and the Tigers on Sept. 17, then facing UNC Asheville on Sept. 18.
Out of its 12 non-conference matchups, the Knights will face just one national qualifier from 2021 in UMBC. Rutgers' conference schedule, however, poses a much more daunting challenge, featuring six national qualifiers from 2021, all of whom finished in the top-25 rankings last season. Specifically, the Knights will be tasked with facing 2021 national semifinalists Wisconsin on Sept. 25.
As Rutgers gets ready to kick off its season in a little over a month, it is important to note that the Knights will be returning a majority of their roster from 2020, including 10 letter winners.
Rutgers' most crucial retention is senior setter Inna Balyko, who became the program’s first-ever All-Big Ten recipient this past season. Balyko etched her name in college volleyball history along the way, moving up to fifth all-time (rally-scoring era) in helpers with 2,709, while also recording the most assists by a Knight in a Big Ten match (58).
Head coach Caitlin Schweihofer will also be coming into her second season, looking to build upon a historical season for the Knights in which Rutgers tripled its conference win total.
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