Terps win Thunder Invite tournament 9-0. Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Milana, Maryland win Thunder Invite

The Maryland volleyball team remains undefeated after winning the Thunder Invite on Saturday, setting the team’s record to 9-0.

Toledo (22-25, 25-13, 16-25, 25-22, 15-12)

The Terrapins continued their streak of offensive dominance Friday night when they faced Toledo in their first match of the Thunder Invite.

Sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana posted 21 kills in the opening match. Her .314 hitting percentage helped the Terps reach a .232 clip and beat Toledo in five sets.

Sophomore setter Samantha Snyder assisted on several of Milana’s kills. Snyder had 32 assists overall –– more than half the team’s total.

Junior libero Kelsey Wicinski quickly found a defensive groove, tallying 20 digs and extending her conference-leading total.

The Terps found themselves in a hole at the start of the match. They allowed Toledo to earn an early 8-1 lead in the first set, which quickly increased to 15-4.

Despite a solid performance from the serving line, Wicinski couldn’t close Toledo’s lead on her own. Her serving run brought the Terps within five points, while a Pritchard block shaved off another point.

Angel Gaskin and Milana added to the efforts, bringing the Terrapins within one point, 23-22. However, Toledo took a timely timeout. The Terrapins allowed two points, losing the first set, 22-25.

The Terps knew they needed to increase their intensity in the second set, so they pulled a 10-4 lead. Erika Pritchard’s solid performance from the serving line contributed three points to the impressive run.

Wicinski, who had a good run at the serving line in the first set, found her groove again. Her two aces pushed the Maryland lead to 13-5. A combined four points from Gaskin and Pritchard extended the lead even further.

Maryland was in an ideal position to win the set and Pritchard knew it. Her three late kills, including the game point, tied the match 25-13.

Maryland’s intensity showed early in the third set, but their 5-3 lead gradually dissipated.

A Toledo kill, which tied the set 8-8, was the start of the Rockets’ several lengthy runs. These runs kept the Terps out of reach and carelessness ensued. An attack error by Lexi Alde put Toledo at match point and Maryland lost the set win two points later, 16-25.

Down 2-1 in the match, Maryland found itself in a state of urgency. But Milana’s veteran presence broke the Terps out of their offensive slump. Her six kills led Maryland and helped the team run off to a decisive fourth set win.

Toledo’s three straight attack errors contributed the Terps 6-1 lead, while kills from Milana and Pritchard pushed the lead to 13-10. Maryland was on a roll and it wasn’t slowing down.

Pritchard, Murray and Gaskin led the Terps offensively, extending the Maryland lead to 19-11. Milana’s back-to-back set sealed the Terps’ impressive set, 25-22.

Two Pritchard kills set Maryland’s pace early, while Murray and Milana increased the lead to 8-5. Although Toledo was able to bring the game within one point, Maryland took a 14-12 lead and were at match point. An attack error ended the set, 15-12, and the match, 3-2.

Virginia Tech (25-22, 25-15, 25-22)

Maryland swept Virginia Tech in their second match of the Thunder Invite. Senior middle blocker Hailey Murray’s 14 kills on a .500 hitting percentage helped the Terps reach a .429 clip and beat Virginia Tech in three sets.

Maryland found a defensive groove early as well, holding Virginia Tech to a .195 hitting percentage. Freshman opposite hitter Samantha Drechsel posted four blocks, while Milana and Wicinski added a combined 16 digs.

The Terps and the Hokies were neck and neck at the start of the opening set, but the Terps broke away and pushed the score to 17-15.

The marginal lead, however, quickly diminished and Maryland found the game within one point, 23-22. A kill from Murray and an attack error from Toledo won the Terps the first set, 25-22.

Maryland steamrolled through the second set, capitalizing on inconsistent plays from Toledo and the Terps’ .571 clip. But the Terps greatest achievement was allowing only one attack error. This consistency gave Maryland a demanding 18-10 lead.

The eight-point margin was one shy of the set high. Gaskin tallied a kill to put the Terps at set point and Drechsel capitalized the set with the go-ahead kill, 25-15.
Virginia Tech scrambled in an effort to salvage the match. However, their efforts came too late. The Hokies early 9-6 lead in the third set quickly turned into an 11-11 tie.

Maryland and Virginia Tech exchanged leads until Drechsel gave Maryland a 22-21 lead. The one-point margin extended as Drechsel tallied a block, while Murray notched the Terps’ two final kills completing the third set 25-22, and match win 3-0.

Marshall (25-18, 25-14, 25-12)

Maryland concluded the Thunder Invite with a 3-0 match win over Marshall Saturday afternoon.

Pritchard added 14 kills on a .417 hitting percentage to an already impressive tournament. The hitting percentage helped Maryland reach a .400 clip, whereas Marshall was easily held to a .093 percentage.

Maryland took command from the match’s opening moments as the Terps took a 9-6 advantage over Marshall. Snyder, like her teammates, had an impressive outing from the serving line. Her performance pushed Maryland’s lead to 15-9 and only grew.

Gaskin and her back-to-back kills forced Marshall call a timeout with Maryland up seven, 18-11. Drechsel added back-to-back kills, and the Terps were at the door step of a victory, 24-17. Marshall began to close the lead before Pritchard posted the set-winning kill, 25-18.

The Terps offensive prowess seemed to only grow in the second set, posting a dominant .591 hitting clip. Murray and Drechsel combined on the defensive end and posted a block, while Myers and Pritchard combined for a second.

The team’s chemistry had quickly bolstered the Terps to an 11-5 set lead. With a sizeable lead already in place, the Terps found success on the serving line.

Wicinski’s performance put the Terps on a 7-0 run. Pritchard and Milana also found success offensively, notching kills, which put the Terps ahead 20-9. Pritchard posted Maryland’s last two kills and claimed the second set, 25-14.

Maryland quickly had the match lead 2-0 and Marshall needed a spark in their offense.
Despite Marshall’s early efforts tying the set 7-7, Maryland pulled away.

Murray and Pritchard notched two kills each to push the score to 11-7. A Marshall attack error put the Terps up 13-9 before a combined team effort sent Maryland on a 7-0 run. Marshall battled back two points, but errors offensively put the Terps at match point, 24-12. A final kill from Milana ended the match, 25-12.

“Our focus was to win three matches this weekend, and we did so,” head coach Steve Aird told Maryland Sports News. “I’m proud of our program and the strides our young players have made, and we’re excited to get back in the gym.”

Honors

All-Tournament Team

Erika Pritchard
Hailey Murray

MVP

Gia Milana

Up Next

Maryland will continue play next week as the Terps host the Maryland Challenge Thursday and Friday. The Terps will take on USC (7-2), Oklahoma (3-6) and Washington (8-1).

Joel Valley
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Joel Valley

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Joel has been the volleyball beat writer at The Left Bench since 2017. He is from Houston and an avid fan of the Texans, Rockets and Astros. In addition to writing, he is also a photographer – a lifelong passion of his.
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