PISCATAWAY, N.J. (December 4, 2013) – After completing one of its most successful campaigns in recent history last year, the Rutgers volleyball team battled through an injury-ridden season to conclude 2013 with several notable accomplishments, despite a 5-27 record.
Rutgers picked up four wins in a challenging nonconference schedule, with 13 of its first 14 matches occurring on the road. The Scarlet Knights opened the season at the Indiana Invitational hosted by future Big Ten foe Indiana, where they picked up wins over Kent State and Robert Morris, while also falling to the Hoosiers in a competitive three-set match. RU also participated in the Delaware Volleyball Invitational, as well as the Candlewood Suites Invitational and Pitt Panther Invitational, both hosted by former BIG EAST rivals, Syracuse and Pitt.
Several Scarlet Knights picked up all-tournament honors through the four competitions, as freshman outside hitter Micaela Anderson (La Cañada, Calif.) and sophomore defensive specialist Ali Schroeter (Bakersfield, Calif.) received Indiana Invitational All-Tournament accolades. Schroeter went on to receive her second honor of the season at the Pitt Panther Invitational, while second-year outside Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.) was named to the all-tournament teams at the Candlewood Suites Invitational and the Delaware Volleyball Invitational.
In its first and only year in the inaugural American Athletic Conference, Rutgers challenged reputable programs, highlighted by a thrilling matchup against regular season champion, Louisville, on Oct. 25. RU pulled out a hard-fought first-set win before the NCAA Tournament team went on to win the next three frames. The Cardinals would lose just eight sets on the year before wrapping up league play with a perfect 18-0 mark.
RU captured its lone conference win of the season on Nov. 22 as it bested Temple in four sets (25-15, 23-25, 25-16 and 25-23) at the College Ave Gym. Noteworthy efforts from rookie middle blocker Lauren Cloyd (Champaign, Ill.), sophomore setter Anna Sudbury (Tomahawk, Wis.) and Anderson propelled RU to the victory. Cloyd and Sudbury both notched career highs in multiple categories, as Cloyd terminated a career-best 13 kills on 22 attacks (.409) and added seven blocks to tie her career high. Sudbury would also aid the Scarlet Knights from the front row, putting away a career-high nine kills on 11 attacks to finish the match with a scorching .818 hitting percentage. She added a career-best and team-high 30 assists. Anderson, meanwhile, recorded a team-best 17 kills on 44 attempts for a .250 attack percentage.
Throughout the 32-game slate, the Scarlet Knights displayed their patented defensive-minded style of play, as the team and players ranked at the top of various American Athletic Conference statistical categories. RU developed into one of the best blocking teams in the AAC, coming in fifth in the league with 2.33 rejections per set after finishing last in the BIG EAST rankings the previous year with an average of 1.58 blocks/set.
Rutgers’ most impressive defensive performance at the net came against Sacred Heart on Sept. 13, when the team finished with 21 total blocks. The total marked not only a season-best, but also the most rejections RU has managed since at least the 2006 season and the most any American school achieved during the season.
Individually, sophomore middle blocker Mikaela Matthews (San Diego, Calif.) ranked third in the league with a team-best 1.23 blocks/set. Matthews came on strong towards the end of the season, highlighted by a career performance against Cincinnati on Nov. 27. The second-year Scarlet Knight recorded her first career double-double after recording career highs in both kills and blocks with 19 and 10, respectively. Her performance marked the first time since at least 2006 that a Scarlet Knight has recorded a double-double of kills and blocks.
Schroeter anchored a solid back row for Rutgers, serving as the libero in all but four of the squad’s matches. Schroeter averaged a team-best 4.35 digs/set (seventh in the league) and completed the year with 544 total digs to set a new RU single-season dig record. After recording 11 digs against Houston on Nov. 3, Schroeter surpassed former Scarlet Knight Shayla Bush’s mark of 463 that stood since 2002.
As a team, RU also posed a threat behind the service line, as the team ranked fifth in the American in aces by averaging 1.21 winners per set. Senior DS Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) ended her career with a third-place ranking in the AAC with 0.30 aces/set.
Offensively, Lassa led the Scarlet Knights with 383 total kills to average 3.25 putdowns/set (sixth in the circuit). The Colorado native managed 12 double-doubles on the year, six of which she notched in AAC play. For the season, Lassa took 1,336 total attempts, also setting a new single-season Rutgers’ record.
In her first year “On the Banks,” Anderson laid the foundation for what can be expected as a promising career in the Scarlet Knight uniform, amassing 148 total kills to finish third on the squad. The rookie started her season off strong at the Indiana Invitational and also closed the year in notable fashion. Anderson earned RU’s lone conference honor in the season, as she was named AAC Freshman of the Week on Nov. 25 after notching back-to-back double-digit kill performances against Temple (Nov. 22) and Memphis (Nov. 24). On the year, the Californian notched double-digit kills on seven different occasions, including three times in Rutgers’ final four games.
Rutgers graduated just two seniors in Wright and Brittany Bozzini (Saratoga, Calif.).
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