The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team (16-12, 5-11) lost their fifth consecutive road match Saturday night, falling to No. 1 Penn State in three sets (14-25, 21-25, 16-25).
“I thought we served tough and played hard tonight,” head coach Steve Aird told Maryland Sports News. “Penn State is really experienced and talented, and they do a lot well. I was proud of our squad for continuing to compete in the match.”
Although outside hitter GIa Milana returned to her dominant ways on Saturday, the sophomore’s 14 kills on 33 percent hitting were not enough. Five Terps eclipsed a negative hitting percentage by the match’s conclusion, and contributed to the team hitting a mere 4.7 percent on the night.
Penn State, who entered the match with the Big Ten’s most dominant offense, showcased their defensive abilities as well. Senior middle blocker Haleigh Washington recorded a match-high seven blocks and helped the Nittany Lions reach 13 blocks.
Maryland found themselves in a hole early, as four offensive errors allowed Penn State to easily run out to a 6-1 lead. Although freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard countered the run with back-to-back kills, the Nittany Lions immediately responded with three consecutive points.
The Terps, now trailing 3-9, needed to find an answer for Penn State’s quick tempo, but a 7-5 run from the Nittany Lions extended the margin further. Maryland found themselves in a more favorable position after making great connections above the net and narrowing the Nittany Lions’ lead to five points.
But Penn State scored five unanswered points, winning the first set 25-14. Four of their final five points came from Maryland errors.
Maryland’s early-set woes continued in the second set, when Penn State escaped for a 5-1 lead. Despite narrowing their lead to two after freshman middle blocker Jada Gardner and Pritchard combined for a block, the Nittany Lions utilized a 3-0 run to extend their lead to 13-7.
The two teams traded points until a Penn State kill placed the game at set point, 24-20, while a kill from the Nittany Lions’ middle blocker Tori Gorrell sealed the Terps’ second loss of the night, 25-21.
On the verge of defeat, Maryland finally seemed to find a rhythm in the third set. Swings were falling, blocks were made and a struggling offense finally found a sense of direction. The shift in performance allowed Maryland to take their first lead of the set, 10-9. But Maryland was unable to hold the lead for long.
A 7-2 run allowed Penn State to reclaim the lead, 16-12, and forced Aird to call a timeout along the way. Maryland managed to narrow the lead to three points twice, but Penn State remained unfazed each time.
Four consecutive attack errors by Maryland allowed the Nittany Lions to comfortably lead 23-16. A service ace from Penn State sophomore Kendall White put the game at match point, while a kill from Washington gave the Terrapins their 12th loss of the season, 25-16.
The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team returns to the Xfinity Center Pavilion Friday, Nov. 17, as they square off against Iowa at 7 p.m.