File photo by Joel Valley/The Left Bench.

Maryland routes Northwestern in three sets

The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team (18-14, 7-13) won their final conference game of the season when they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats (14-18, 4-16) in three sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-13) Friday evening at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.

“I think we executed well, and credit to my staff for coming up with a great game plan,” head coach Steve Aird told Maryland Sports News. “I thought we showed a lot of heart to come back in game two. It’s always great to send the seniors out with a win.”

Freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard recorded a match-high 15 kills on a .500 hitting percentage, while sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana added 11. The duo’s combined .393 hitting percentage powered the Terps to a victory, but the squad’s most significant statistic was their seven attack errorstheir fewest in the past 23 matches.

The two squads entered the first set evenly matched until a pair of aces from sophomore setter Samantha Snyder helped Maryland erupt for a 7-2 run, and take the lead 11-7.

Although Northwestern’s outside hitters continued to swing hard, the Terps would not forfeit their lead. A Milana kill placed the Terps at set point, 24-22, while Pritchard followed her fellow outside hitter with the set-winning kill, 25-23.

Maryland’s defensive presence dissipated in the second set and allowed Northwestern to take a commanding 10-5 edge, forcing Aird to call a timeout. The timeout, however, did not immediately ignite the Terps defense, granting the Wildcats the opportunity to grow their lead to six, 17-11.

But then, the Terps’ offensive weapons in Milana, Gaskin and Pritchard combined for a 7-1 run to pull Maryland even, 18-18. Milana’s third kill of the set placed the Terps at set point, while an offensive lapse from Northwestern gave the Terps their second win of the night, 25-22.

Maryland’s momentum powered the squad throughout the third set, as the Terps hit a combined .609. Senior middle blocker Hailey Murray tallied back-to-back service aces, and catapulted the Terrapins to a quick 7-4 lead. But Maryland’s offensive dominance would not stop there, as a 9-4 run pushed the Terps’ lead 16-8.

A 3-0 run to conclude the match sealed Maryland’s 18th win of the season, 25-13.

Joel Valley
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Joel Valley

Volleyball Beat Writer & Photographer
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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.
Joel Valley
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