The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team (17-13) lost to No. 5 Nebraska (24-4) in three sets (23-25, 18-25, 13-25) Saturday evening at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.
The loss marked the team’s 12th conference loss in the Big Ten.
“I thought we competed really well in game one,” head coach Steve Aird said. “You’re window is the first game. If we win the game, then I feel like it’s a different match and I feel like we might be in a better situation.”
Although the Terps failed to earn a single set win, Aird attributed most of the blame to himself.
“I didn’t do a good enough job preparing my team for Nebraska,” Aird said. “We have a young team and a lot of the stuff was on me.
Freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard and freshman opposite hitter Samantha Drechsel tallied 18 kills on a combined .128 hitting clip. The pair’s offensive performance contributed to Maryland’s 32 total kills and a .115 team-wide percentage.
Despite sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana’s match-high seven digs and freshman middle blocker Jada Gardner’s three blocks, Maryland was heavily mismatched on defense. The Terps notched four team blocks compared to Nebraska’s nine.
Nebraska opened the scoring in the Xfinity Center Pavilion, when they took advantage of back-to-back service aces from their junior outside hitter, Mikaela Foecke. But the Terps quickly responded with consecutive kills of their own to narrow their deficit, 3-5.
Although Nebraska extended their lead back to four points, offensive errors from the Cornhuskers allowed Maryland to pull even, 15-15. The two squads remained neck-and-neck until a kill from Nebraska’s Jazz Sweet capped a commanding 9-5 run from the Cornhuskers.
Consecutive errors from the Cornhuskers and a service ace by Drechsel brought Maryland within one, 23-24, but a kill from Nebraska’s Annika Albrecht gave the Terps their first loss of the night, 23-25.
Maryland’s consistency against Nebraska improved, despite the Terps’ four offensive errors during the opening moments of the third set. And the Terps managed to narrow the Cornhuskers edge to one point, 8-9, when the Milana led Maryland on an 8-4 run.
But attack errors allowed Nebraska to extend their lead to six points, forcing Aird to call a timeout.
The Terps, however, could not slow down the Cornhuskers’ offense, which appeared to be performing effortlessly. Maryland forfeited committed back-to-back errors to conclude the second set, allowing the Cornhuskers to easily win, 25-18.
Down 0-2 to fifth-ranked Nebraska, Maryland needed a spark on the court. But the Terps resilience on the court dissipated in a matter of minutes, as they took a seemingly insurmountable 5-13 deficit.
Nebraska, on the verge of their 24th win, continued their impressive performance with a narrow 7-4 run, extending their lead to 20-9—the largest margin of the night.
Although the Terps would battle til the final swing, they could not control the damage.
A kill from Nebraska’s Kelly Hunter placed the Cornhuskers at set point, while an attack error from Pritchard sealed Maryland’s loss, 13-25.
The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team returns to the Xfinity Center Pavilion Wednesday Nov. 22 when they face Ohio State (14-14).
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