Big Ten Snapshots: Slow Progress Continues For Underdog Rutgers

In the world of NCAA women’s volleyball, there’s no conference quite like the Big Ten. Heading into the 2019 season, seven of the 14 teams appeared in the AVCA preseason top-25 poll. Five of those seven ranked in the top 10. 

FloVolleyball will be your go-to spot to stream Big Ten matches this season. Click here for the schedule of matches.

*Schedule is subject to change. Every Big Ten's women's volleyball match available on BTN Plus also will be available live and on-demand on FloVolleyball. 

This week, we're bringing you a quick rundown of all 14 teams in the Big Ten, so you can know what to expect as teams get the season rolling this weekend.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

2018 Record: 6-27 (0-20 Big Ten)

2018 Postseason: N/A

AVCA National Preseason Ranking: N/A

Big Ten Preseason Ranking: 14

A quick glance at Rutgers’ 2018 record doesn’t capture the type of progress head coach CJ Werneke has made in 11 seasons as the team’s head coach. The 2018 squad didn’t win a match in the Big Ten, but it did rank nationally in blocks per set as a team, break eight school records, and win more sets in Big Ten play than in any season since joining the Power Five conference in 2014.

Two talented additions to the team that lost just one player to graduation should help keep the ball rolling in the right direction. PrepVolleyball ranked 6-4 opposite Tessa Lawson as the No. 35 recruit in the Class of 2019, an even more impressive feat considering she only started playing volleyball three years ago. 

“From a volleyball standpoint, [Tessa] has top-of-the-charts measurables with her length, size and athleticism,” Werneke said. “Her jump and ball contact set her apart, and she puts up a great block.”

Lefty setter Caitlin Kikta made the All-Tournament team at JOs this year after quarterbacking her Coast club team to a fifth-place finish in the 18 Open division.

“We’re excited to add a setter of this caliber to our program,” Werneke said. “Caitlin has winning experience at the high school and club level, and her leadership at a young age and ability to make others better is a key aspect of her game.” 

Among the key returners is Jasmine Stackhouse. The 6-3 middle broke the school record for single-season blocks (120) and blocks in a five-set match (12) and was a major component of Rutgers’ nationally ranked blocking unit.

Setter Inna Balyko garnered Rutgers’ first Freshman of the Week honor from the Big Ten and surpassed 1,000 assists in her debut collegiate season. The Russian native is one of eight international student-athletes on the 2019 Rutgers roster. 

Watch Rutgers in action this season on FloVolleyball. Upcoming matches below.

*Schedule subject to change.

Sept. 6 Rutgers vs. Towson 10:30 AM ET

Sept. 6 Rutgers vs. Princeton 4:30 PM ET

Sept. 7 Rutgers vs. Virginia 2 PM ET

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