The team has taken its lumps in its first two seasons in the Big Ten. It has struggled, and certainly not helped by a lack of top-tier facilities.
New year, new results.
In four tournaments last season, Rutgers was a combined 3-9, including being swept at the Harvard Invitational. But 2016 opened with the Bryant Hampton Inn-vitational and the squad equaled its 2015 win total, winning the tournament with victories over Rider, Hartford, and Bryant, while losing to St. John’s.
Senior right side Cole Trimble was named Tournament MVP, averaging a .365 hitting percentage across four games. Freshman libero Karysa Swackenberg joined her teammate earning All-Tournament recognition of her own, posting a team-high 47 digs in four starts as a rookie.
The Knights brought back seven letterwinners this year while adding five freshman and two transfers. It is a young and eager squad. "We are more athletic than we have ever been. We have some serious athletes in the gym. We also have more volleyball experience and IQ than we have had in the past as well," said head coach CJ Werneke. "One of the impressive things we are noticing is how competitive this group is. We will have options this year at each position, more options than we have ever had."
BRYANT HAMPTON INN-VITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Astrid Mangual, Hartford
Erica Di Maulo, St. John's
Evelyn Shanefield, Rider
Ally Lunsford, Bryant
Karysa Swackenberg, Rutgers
Cole Trimble, Rutgers (MVP)
Big Ten Volleyball Honors
Player of the Week: Taylor Sandbothe, Ohio State MB – Sr.
• Guided No. 15 Ohio State to victories over North Texas, nationally-ranked Texas A&M and Texas State
• Averaged 4.1 kills per set and posted a .507 hitting percentage on the week
• Tied her career high with 26 kills against Texas A&M, hitting at a clip of .605
Defensive Player of the Week: Ashlyn MacGregor, Maryland MB – Sr.
• Recorded 21 total blocks, including a career high 14 against Sacred Heart
Co-Setters of the Week
Kelly Hunter, Nebraska, S – Jr.
Lauren Carlini, Wisconsin, S – Sr.
Freshman of the Week: Molly Haggerty, Wisconsin, OH
• Posted 42 kills on the week, averaging 4.2 kills per set
• Recorded a double-double in her collegiate debut against Hawaii with 19 kills and 16 digs
Field Hockey (1-1)
After a season-opening 2-0 loss to Bucknell, the Rutgers Field Hockey team bounced back with a dominating win over Virginia Commonwealth.
Against Bucknell, the first and winning goal came on the Bisons’ lone shot of the first half. BU freshman Brittany Willwerth deflected in a shot for a 1-0 lead even though Rutgers held a 3-1 advantage in first half shots. Bucknell added its second goal twelve minutes into the second half.
In its return for its home opener, Rutgers saw three players score in the 5-0 win. The Knights were led by two goals each from senior Devon Freshnock and sophomore Linde van Schaik. Senior Rachel Yaney also added a goal. van Schaik had her first career multi-goal game and set a career-high in points (five) and shots (7). Freshnock had her first two-goal game, tying her career-high with four points.
“I thought this was a big win today,” head coach Meredith Civico said. “Especially rebounding after yesterday’s tough loss, the focus coming into today was on making those adjustments and continuing our process. I thought the team did a really good job making those adjustments, especially in the second half. We had some really quality goals today and that was really good to see.”
Men’s Soccer (0-2)
It is a brutal opening schedule for the Men’s Soccer team. Two ranked opponents to open the season have led to two losses. Close, but losses nonetheless.
Opening the season at No. 25, the Knights were unable to score in a 2-0 loss to No. 7 Creighton. The Bluejays overwhelmed the Knight in shots on goal, 10-2.
"I knew what we were facing when we scheduled these games and Creighton is an exceptional team," said head coach Dan Donigan. "We were withstanding what they were throwing at us. I thought we had an unbelievable opportunity with Miles' [Hackett] chance."
Dave Greczek made eight saves in goal for the Knights.
Two days later, RU took on No. 20 Denver and again dropped a shutout to the Pioneers. The Knights played more evenly against Denver, each team having three shots on goal. Donigan commented: "(Denver) did a great job of sustaining what we could throw at them. I felt we were on them for the most part, but they had the lead for 88 minutes of the game. We were the ones that had to chase and push the game.”