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Rutgers volleyball drops Big Ten openers

Fifth-year right side hitter Beka Kojadinovic, fifth-year senior middle blocker Shealyn McNamara and the Rutgers volleyball team lost their first two matches in Big Ten play, falling to Penn State and Wisconsin over the weekend. – Photo by Olivia Thiel

The Rutgers women’s volleyball team opened up conference play with two consecutive losses on Friday and Saturday night, falling to No. 20 Penn State and No. 2 Wisconsin.

The Scarlet Knights (8-5, 0-2) were swept again this season, while the Nittany Lions (8-3, 1-0) and Badgers (9-1, 1-1) recorded their eighth and seventh sweep respectively.

Penn State came out strong through the gates, opening up the first set up 5-0. The Nittany Lions then went on a 20-5 run to close out and win the opening frame. It was a similar story in the following set, as Penn State took an 8-1 advantage to start, then finished on a 17-11 run to capture a two-set lead.

Rutgers fought back in the third set staying neck and neck with the Nittany Lions at 8-8 to open the frame. Penn State would then rattle off 7 straight points to take a commanding 15-8 lead and put the Knights in a further hole. Despite the deficit, Rutgers continued its comeback efforts, going on a 12-9 run themselves, but ultimately losing the set and the match. 

The following night, the Knights would keep it close for all three sets, with the largest deficit all match being 9 points. Rutgers also held a lead in each of the three sets against the Badgers, contrary to the night before. 

Fifth-year right side hitter Beka Kojadinovic led the Knights in kills over the course of the weekend with 18, while senior setter Inna Balyko provided a team-leading 43 assists. On the defensive side, sophomore libero Madyson Chitty and fifth-year senior middle blocker Shealyn McNamara lead the team in digs and blocks respectively, with the Chitty providing 16 digs and McNamara totaling five blocks. 

Rutgers will now go on a two-game road trip between Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 to the Midwest to face Northwestern and Purdue. The Knights are scheduled to play at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Livingston campus again on Oct. 8 against Indiana and then Oct. 10 against No. 12 Nebraska.

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

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