NEWARK, N.J. (Sept. 1, 2021) – Led by a balanced attack that featured four different student-athletes with at least five kills, the Stevens Institute of Technology women’s volleyball team opened the 2021 campaign with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-9, 25-20) sweep of Rutgers University-Newark on Wednesday night.
The win for the Ducks was the first collegiate head coaching victory for Brianna Jones and the first season-opening win for Stevens since 2017 when they finished 27-8, winning the Empire 8 Conference title and advancing to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore Elle Maggio led the way for Stevens offensively with six kills while junior Ava Smithing, sophomore Megan Dion, and first-year Parker Adkins added five kills apiece.
The two seniors on the squad also contributed to the victory as setter Kathleen Riegner picked up right where she left off in 2019 with 19 assists, five digs and a service ace while defensive specialist Elizabeth Chu registered a team-high seven digs and added a pair of service aces.
Stevens also had things working from the service line as they produced 12 service aces compared to just four for Rutgers-Newark. In fact, sophomore Madison Sappia matched the Scarlet Raider’s total aces with four by herself.
The return to the court was the first collegiate competition for the women’s volleyball program in 647 days since the Ducks faced off against Johns Hopkins in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 17, 2019.
Volleys and Points
- The Scarlet Raiders came out of the gates strong to open things up, scoring four of the first five points of the match to take an early lead.
- Stevens answered back rather quickly, scoring four straight points highlighted by a Chu service ace and three Rutgers-Newark errors to take a 5-4 edge.
- Trailing 10-8, the Ducks went on an 8-1 run thanks in large part to a Maggio kill, a double block by Maggio and Smithing and six errors by the Scarlet Raiders to take command of the opening set.
- After jostling back-and-forth, Stevens put the set away by finishing things off with three straight points capped off by a kill from sophomore Liz Patterson to win the set 25-18.
- The second set was all Ducks from the start as Stevens won nine of the first 12 points of the stanza to take a commanding early lead.
- The 9-3 run to open the set had a little bit of everything as Maggio registered two kills, sophomore Megan Dion added another as well as a service ace and Sappia produced a pair of service aces of her own.
- Rutgers-Newark looked like they might climb back into the contest as they cut the deficit to four, but Stevens, specifically Smithing and Adkins, did not let that happen as the duo combined to score four of the next six points of the match as a part of a 6-1 run for the Ducks.
- The end of the set looked much like the beginning with Stevens scoring the final six points after two Scarlet Raider errors, a Patterson kill, a Sappia ace and the first kill of the match for junior Riley Koehler.
- In the third and final set, the Ducks fell behind early 2-0 but quickly countered as they did all night with a 5-0 run that featured yet another Sappia ace as well as kills by Maggio and Dion.
- After trading points for the next few rallies, the Ducks created some separation with a 4-0 run with Adkins at the service line as the first-year from Euless, Texas, put down a pair of aces to make the score 15-9.
- Another quick 4-0 flurry featuring a Koehler kill and a Enkhsanaa Enkhbayar service ace pushed the lead to eight at 20-12 to give Stevens full control.
- Rutgers-Newark made things interesting by scoring eight of the next 12 points in the set, but it was all for naught as the Ducks eventually put things away with a 25-20 win in the final set to earn the sweep.
- With four student-athletes all tied for the team-lead with five kills each, Maggio made sure to end the night on top as she put down her sixth kill of the match to seal the 3-0 sweep.
Inside the Numbers
- The Ducks hit .158 in the match offensively while holding the Scarlet Raiders to a -.048 attack percentage.
- Stevens was fantastic from the service line with 12 aces in the contest compared to four for Rutgers-Newark. The Ducks eclipsed 12 aces just once in the 2019 season (Nov. 2, 2019, at Lebanon Valley).
- Adkins was the most efficient attacker for the Ducks throughout the night as she put down five kills on just nine swings with a pair of errors for a .333 attack percentage.
- Not only did Maggio lead the way in kills, she also had the most blocks in the contest for Stevens with four.
- First-year Nicole Scribner got the start at libero and racked up six digs as well as three assists, both second-most on the squad.
- Sappia ended the contest with four service aces to lead the team while Chu, Adkins and Dion added two apiece.
- Rutgers-Newark out-blocked the Ducks 7-5 and the two teams were dead even with 31 digs each.
- Riegner has now registered double-digit assists in 28 consecutive matches dating back to Sept. 14, 2019.
- First-years Adkins, Scribner and Shannon Cleo all made their collegiate debuts for the Ducks while sophomores Patterson, Hodges, Mains, Maggio and Dion all took part in a competitive intercollegiate match for the first time in their careers.
- Playing in her first career collegiate match wearing the libero jersey, Scribner was efficient setting up the offense all night as she produced six digs and did not commit a single receiving error.
From the Sidelines (Head Coach Brianna Jones)
- “I am extremely proud of the way the team performed after such a long hiatus away from the game. It was fun to watch them competing against another team and showing all of their hard work they put in this preseason.”
- “My first career win means so much to me because it shows the trust the student-athletes, the staff and everyone in this program has in me. I truly have to thank each and every student-athlete and staff member for believing in my vision and jumping along on this journey.”
- Stevens opens its home season inside Canavan Arena with the Stevens Invitational Saturday as they take on Hunter College at 10:30 a.m. and Muhlenberg College at 2:30 p.m.
- The Ducks have won the 17 of the last 18 matches against Hunter dating back to the 2003 season including a 3-0 sweep the last time the two teams played on Oct. 24, 2019.
- Stevens has won the last three matchups against the Mules, meanwhile, with the last win coming in a thrilling 3-2 victory in Bethlehem, Pa. on Sept. 4, 2015.
- Live stats and video for the entire tournament will be available on StevensDucks.com.