Junior setter Samantha Snyder prepares for a serve during the Terps' 3-1 win against Indiana on Oct. 27, 2017 (Joel Valley/The Left Bench).

Terps finish Maryland Invite 2-1, improve to 7-2 on the season

Maryland women’s volleyball finished the Maryland Invite with a 2-1 record, defeating Colgate and Liberty in straight sets and losing a decisive five set battle to South Carolina.

Colgate (25-22, 25-13, 25-17)

The Raiders came into this match with four straight losses and struggled to stop the balanced Maryland offensive attack. Maryland had the perfect combination of an effective offense as well as great defense, finishing the match with 11 blocks. The trio of sophomore Erika Pritchard, freshman Rainelle Jones, and senior Liz Twilley combined for 25 kills, pacing the Terps’ offense. Sophomore setter Nicole Alford finished with 29 assists that helped facilitate the offense and set up her teammates in good positions.

“Part of the game plan going into this morning was to get Rainelle as many swings as possible,” head coach Adam Hughes said.

In addition, the Maryland defense held Colgate to .086 hitting percentage making it very difficult for them to have offensive success. Freshman libero Allegra Rivas continued her strong start to the season, finishing with 14 digs.

The first set was tightly contested, but the Terps were able to convert on just enough opportunities to beat the Raiders. Building off their success in the first set the Terps dominated set two defeating the Raiders by 12 points, their second highest margin of victory this season.

The Terps closed out the third and final set emphatically, with five of their 11 blocks.

South Carolina (23-25, 30-32, 25-18, 25-22, 10-15)

The Xfinity Center Pavilion was rocking Saturday night for all five sets, but ultimately the Terps lost a decisive battle to South Carolina. Resiliency and missed opportunities were the key themes of the match for Maryland, who fought back after losing the first two sets.

Pritchard, Twilley and redshirt sophomore Katie Meyers combined for 49 kills, leading the Terps offensive attack in the back and forth affair. Twilley had crucial kills in the second set that saved multiple set points, though the end result was a loss. Each time one of the Terps successfully converted a kill, the crowd went wild standing on their feet. However, the Terps were frustrated after the five set loss knowing they were so close to victory.

“We know that we had them there, we were really close we just missed some opportunities,” Alford said. “It’s exciting to see that we can battle back from something like that and go after a really good team.”

Alford and Rivas lead the Terps defense combining for 34 kills, as well as Meyers, who finished with a team high six blocks. Despite the Terps strong defense, South Carolina’s Brittany McLean, Mikayla Shields and Mikayla Robinson were able to finish with 45 kills of their own. Their play in clutch time was crucial for the Gamecocks narrowly edging out the Terps.

Liberty (25-19, 25-21, 25-22)

Similar to the match against Colgate, defense and a balanced offensive attack were the keys to victory for Maryland. Pritchard, Twilley and Jones finished with 26 kills, making it very difficult for opposing defenders to stop them knowing the offense can come from anywhere on the court. Jones put on quite a show for the Terrapin faithful this weekend, as a consistent offensive threat throughout the weekend.

Defensively, the Terps had 10 blocks, putting a lot of pressure on the Flames hitters at the net and not allowing them to generate a lot of offense.

“The game plan was to calign, so we just kind of nailed that into our brain and once that clicks the move will come,” Jones said.

Sophomore Samantha Burgio was vital to the Terps defense finishing with 9 digs, as well as Rivas who finished with eight. Pritchard and Meyers continued to provide an important net front presence, challenging Liberty’s top attackers Peyton Carter and Jenna Culhan.

The Terps record is now 7-2 and they will travel to Philadelphia for the Temple Invite next weekend to take  on Temple, New Hampshire, and Princeton.