The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team fell to the Fighting Illini in three sets Saturday evening at Huff Hall. The loss marked the team’s fifth conference loss and dropped their record to 14-5.
Despite a relatively good hitting night from Senior middle blocker Hailey Murray and freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard, the Terps failed to take a set in Champaign, Illinois. The pair combined for an impressive 15 kills on a combined 0.303 hitting percentage.
It became apparent early that Maryland would struggle without their dominant junior libero. Kelsey Wicinski, who leads the Big Ten with 4.78 digs per set, did not play for the second night in the row. The star defensive specialist is rehabbing an upper body injury, according to the team.
Freshman defensive specialist Samantha Burgio started the game as the team’s libero for the second night in a row.
Although Burgio and junior setter Abigail Bentz recorded 10 digs each, Maryland failed to slow Illinois high-powered offense. The Terps recorded four fewer team blocks than the Wildcats.
Maryland opened the match with an early 4-1 lead after Pritchard recorded a kill and a service ace in back-to-back possessions. Pritchard and the Terps utilized a 12-11 run to extend their lead, 16-12.
A series of Maryland errors contributed to an Illinois 8-5 run allowing the Fighting Illini to claim a narrow two-point lead, 19-17. The dominant performance continued as a service ace from Tyanna Omazic placed Illinois at set point, 24-20, while a kill from Jacqueline Quade ended the set, 25-21.
Maryland’s poor play continued well into the second set, as Illinois capitalized on three offensive errors to take a 10-5 lead. The Terps responded with three consecutive points but a 12-9 run helped Illinois push their lead to 22-14. A routine kill gave Illinois the set win, 25-18.
The Terps failed to recover from their two set deficit, and a third set loss appeared imminent. A dominant hitting run allowed the Fighting Illini to jump out to a commanding 10-4 lead. Although sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana and the Terps managed to narrow the Illinois lead to three points, 14-11, the team struggled to take a lead.
Maryland’s inconsistency defensively helped the Fighting Illini keep their lead and push the margin back to six points, 19-13. A 8-2 run from the Terrapins narrowed the Illinois lead to two points, but the offensive effort was short-lived.
A kill from the Fighting Illini and conference leading blocker Ali Bastianelli placed Illinois at match point. The Terps managed to battle back a point, but Illinois quickly sealed the match win with a kill from Illinois’ sophomore outside hitter Jacqueline Quade.
The Terrapins volleyball team will return to the court Wednesday, Oct. 15 when they face Wisconsin in the Xfinity Center Pavilion at 6 p.m.