The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team (17-12, 6-11) snapped a four game losing streak Friday when they defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes in four sets (25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 25-18) at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.
“I thought it was a gutsy effort, especially when we had a swing to win the match in the third game,” head coach Steve Aird said. “I told them in the third game, ‘If you want to be relevant against really good teams then you have to be able to close the door.’”
Sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana notched 19 kills on the night, while Pritchard and Drechsel added a combined 23. The trio’s combined .215 hitting percentage helped the Terps reach a team-wide rate of .243.
Despite beginning the match with a 0-2 deficit, Maryland utilized a dominant 6-1 run to claim the lead, 6-3. The Terps’ three-point edge continued to grow as Pritchard and senior middle blocker Hailey Murray combined for back-to-back kills, extending the lead to 23-16.
A Gia Milana kill placed the Terps at set point 24-21, while Murray sealed the win, 25-21, with a well placed service ace.
Maryland once again found themselves in a 0-2 hole during the opening stages of the second set. But the Pritchard and Murray continued to battle and helped the Terps take a narrow 3-2 lead. The two squads matched each other point-for-point, until a kill from junior opposite hitter Angel Gaskin ignited Maryland’s offense to a 3-0 run.
The Terps’ defensive awareness, however, would dissipate in the set’s defining moments, as the Terps allowed the Hawkeyes to pull ahead 15-14. Back-to-back kills from Milana allowed the Terps to pull even and reclaim the lead, 16-15.
Iowa managed to tie the game, 17-17, but the Terps were determined to take a two set advantage. A trio of Pritchard, Milana and Murray tallied consecutive kills, forcing the Hawkeyes to call a timeout.
A Pritchard service ace placed the Terps at set point, 24-19, making Iowa burn their second timeout of the set. But Milana and Murray combined for a massive block to give Maryland their second win of the evening, 25-19.
Maryland failed to enter the third set strong, and quickly found themselves in a four point deficit, 1-5. A kill from Murray snapped Iowa’s hot start, while a kill from Drechsel narrowed their lead further.
Maryland’s offensive weapons eventually found a rhythm in the third set, as Drechsel and Milana combined for consecutive kills. The offensive display powered the Terps to a 4-0 run, which allowed Maryland to edge the Hawkeyes’ 15-13.
Despite a victory within reach, 24-22, Maryland failed to capitalize on the opportunity.
An Iowa kill narrowed the margin to one point, while an attack error from Milana pulled the Hawkeyes even, 24-24. Maryland’s offensive slump coupled with poor defense allowed Iowa to steal the third set 26-24.
Errors quickly became the theme of the fourth set, when the game’s first six points came from attack errors and service errors. Fortunately for the Terps, the errors favored Maryland, 6-2.
Maryland’s equally distributed offense extended their lead to 14-8 and would not dissipate. A Pritchard service ace placed the Terps at set point, while a Drechsel gave the Terps their 17th win of the season, 25-18.
“I think playing top-ten teams four matches in a row is tiring and frustrating, but we had the whole week to prepare for this match,” Murray said. “So, I think coming into [the game] we felt a lot more confident and we were in a situation where we felt that we could have success.”
The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team returns to the court Nov. 18, as they square off against No. 5 Nebraska (22-4) at 6 p.m. in the Xfinity Center Pavilion.
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