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The Sett, Week 3 - Rutgers

An improving Scarlet Knights squad was almost inevitable, and it’s happening (?)

Ben Solomon Photography; @BENSOLOMONPHOTO

“Last” Year In Rutgers Volleyball

In 2019, Rutgers went 2-18 in conference, tripling their all-time Big 10 volleyball wins in a single year. I’ll save you from taking off your socks: that’s a 3-117 record. Both wins came against the bottom tier of the Big Ten, but when the bar is so low that counts as improvement.

But it was too little too late for their coach C.J. Werneke, and on January 15th Caitlin Schweihofer took over head coaching duties. She pulled LaSalle from a similar crater in A-10 play, going from a 1-27 mark in her first two seasons to 17-11 in her last two. I don’t know anything about Atlantic 10 volleyball, but if you need a coach to just bring a level of respectability to a program, one that made something out of nothing is a fine pick.

2021 Rutgers Volleyball

Let’s have a little thought experiment. Say you were coaching Rutgers, and needed to sell prospects on playing for the Scarlet Knights. Some aspects are pretty universal like early playing opportunities, a high level of competition to measure against in the Big Ten. You could specifically sell Rutgers on being a excellent university (No. 63 in the US News ranking) close to New York City.

But the trick is, you can’t actually sell them on your facilities or game environment. In fact, you don’t want them to try coming to see you play. Who buys what you’re selling?

I’m Internationally Known, But Not Known To Rock A Microphone

School Roster Size International Players
School Roster Size International Players
Wisconsin 20 2
Maryland 15 0
Rutgers 12 7
Nebraska 15 0

You look overseas. For what it’s worth, Schweihofer has managed to keep that international group together during a first season nobody would ask for. Rutgers bounced back from two sweeps at Northwestern to splitting against the Hoosiers. One of those international players even picked up her second conference weekly award, as junior Inna Balyko picked up Setter of the Week to join a 2018 Freshman of the Week honor.

Front Court

Balyko also picked up her 2,000th career assist, which was a struggle. In 2018 and 2019, each year the three pin hitters with the most attacks had hitting percentages below .200. In 2020’s currently small sample size, Beka Kojadinovic’s .319 is a huge outlier. She’s historically done well against teams on Northwestern or Indiana’s level, but Wisconsin is not that level - she’s hit below zero each time against the Badgers.

Sometimes Rutgers successfully blocks the ball.

Back Court

Last year’s libero Karysa Swackenberg graduated, and while nobody would call Rutgers defense “average” it sure didn’t get better with her departure. Rutgers is just below average in most aspects. They have too many attack errors, they don’t cover well, they don’t have a great service game. They travel to Madison and host Nebraska in consecutive weekends, and I hope that one win against Indiana can hold them over.

Game Info

Elsewhere Around the Conference

Currently, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota are all 4-0 teams in the standings. Aside from the Indiana-Rutgers weekend split, every other team won or lost both games against their opponent. The other games of note are Illinois at Penn State and Purdue hosting Minnesota, a good warmup for the two powerhouses before they meet Valentine’s Day weekend. Quality matchups are on the horizon!