File photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Terps finish Cherry and White Challenge 2-1, improve to 9-3 on the season

Maryland women’s volleyball continued to build on their impressive start to the season, defeating New Hampshire and Temple in straight sets the first two matches. In the final match of the tournament, the Terps lost to Princeton in a five-set battle. All three of Maryland’s losses this season have come in five sets.

New Hampshire (25-17, 25-20, 25-21)

An important theme for the Terps throughout this match was the lack of mistakes. The Terps committed only eight attack errors, their lowest of the season. The Terps started all three sets a little slow, but showed toughness each time.

The first set the Wildcats lead 14-12 before the Terps closed the set on a 13-3 run. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Katie Meyers energized the first set run, including two aces and a kill. In the second set, the Terps faced a tougher deficit as they were down 12-4, but won 19 of the next 25 points to propel them to the second set victory.

Similar to the first two sets, the Terps trailed 14-10 in set three, but rallied once again to close out the match.

Continuing to pace the offense, the attacking duo of sophomore outside hitter Erika Pritchard and freshman middle blocker Rainelle Jones finished with a combined 21 kills. Both players were extremely efficient in their attacks, hitting at .424 and .600 clips, respectively. Sophomore setter Nicole Alford finished with 34 assists, setting up her teammates up with great balls.

Defensively, the libero duo of freshman Allegra Rivas and sophomore Samantha Burgio finished with 24 of the team’s 52 digs. Meyers and Jones continued to provide an important net-front presence for the Terps, finishing with six blocks and limiting the success of the Wildcats attackers.

Temple (25-10, 25-20, 25-17)

The Terps came out of the gates firing against the Owls, finishing with their highest kills total in a set in two years with 22, compared to the Owls six. The 15-point margin of victory in set one was the Terps’ largest of the season.

Offensive balance was a key theme head coach Adam Hughes harped on before the match and was a key in the Terps dominance throughout the match. The trio of senior outside hitter Liz Twilley, Pritchard and Jones finished with 34 of the team’s 48 kills. Alford finished with 33 assists as she continues to help the group of hitters.

Leading the defensive efforts were the trio of Rivas, Burgio and sophomore middle blocker Jada Gardner. The three finished with 36 of the team’s 46 digs. Gardner also contributed with three of the team’s four blocks, another key theme that Hughes wanted to focus on entering this tournament.

Princeton (17-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-23, 14-16)

Resiliency has been a key montra for this Terps team throughout the season, and it was put to the test today after losing the first two sets to Princeton. Despite losing the first two sets, the Terps stuck to the game plan and forced a decisive fifth set.

Despite the loss, the Terps still maintained the offensive balance they showed throughout the previous match. Twilley, Pritchard and Gardner accounted for 39 of the team’s 59 kills pacing the Terps offense. For the third time this season, Alford finished with 50 assists to tie her career high while facilitating the offense in the fast-paced affair.

Rivas finished with a career high 32 digs, nearly doubling her previous career high of 19 against South Carolina. Burgio and Alford finished with an additional 30 digs trying to fight off the Tigers attacks. Meyers used her imposing 6foot-3 frame to block the Tigers attacks with a team-high seven blocks. Jones and Gardner also were vital at the net each having four blocks.

The Terps will now look to start conference play against Rutgers on Wednesday night at the Pavilion in the Xfinity Center.