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Rutgers volleyball looks toward games with Penn State, Ohio State

The Rutgers volleyball team faces two ranked opponents this weekend in Penn State and Ohio State.  – Photo by Olivia Thiel

Still searching for its first win in close to a month, the Rutgers women’s volleyball team will travel to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on No. 15 Penn State this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The team will travel the next day at 7 p.m. to Columbus, Ohio, for a game against No. 7 Ohio State.

The Scarlet Knights (8-9, 0-6) are also yet to record a conference win, with their last Big Ten victory dating back to April 3.

What was its best start to a season since 2012 suddenly took a turn for Rutgers, going winless in its last 7 games, 6 of which have been three-set losses.

Comparatively, the Nittany Lions (12-4, 5-1) come into the matchup having won 7 of their last 8 while the Buckeyes (14-2, 4-2) have been victorious in their last four.

With both opponents being ranked, the weekend’s contests will mark the Knights’ fifth and sixth games against ranked opponents. The Knights have met Penn State once this season already, being swept at home.

Both opponents’ success has been predicated on a number of key players including the Nittany Lions’ Kaitlyn Hord who has the second-most blocks per set in the Big Ten, with 1.58, and Ohio State’s Mac Podraza is averaging the second-most assists per set in the Big Ten, with 12.02. In their first meeting, Hord totaled seven blocks against Rutgers.

For the Knights, senior setter Inna Balyko continues to lead the team in assists, now averaging 8.89 assists per set, while senior right-side hitter Beka Kojadinovic has led the attack up front, averaging 2.91 kills per set.

Defensively, sophomore libero Madyson Chitty is producing 3.72 digs per set, and senior middle back Shealyn McNamara is averaging 1.26 blocks per set, good for ninth in the Big Ten.

Rutgers will have a three-day rest period after their game against the Buckeyes before the team continues its road trip next Wednesday in College Park, Maryland, against Maryland. The Knights will finish up their road trip on Oct. 24 against Indiana, before returning home on Oct. 29 for the start of a four-game homestand.

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

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