Maryland volleyball had competed in three five set matches prior to tonight, all losses however tonight was a different story. The Terps won the match (25-22, 25-22, 15-25, 21-25, 17-15), once again demonstrating the never-quit mentality, which has been vital to their success this season.
“It was gritty, this group never quits and I’ve known that from day one so I’m incredibly proud of them,” Maryland head coach Adam Hughes said.
In front of a capacity crowd at the Pavilion, the Terps came out the gates firing, winning eight of the first ten points. The Terps finished the first set hitting at a .381 clip, extremely efficient in their attacks coming from all over the court.
“I think we had a really balanced offense, which is great allows all hitters to have clear looks at the court,” senior outside hitter Liz Twilley said.
Freshman outside hitter Emma Schriner led the Terps with four kills in the first set. Complementing Schriner perfectly was the outside hitter duo of sophomore Erika Pritchard and senior Liz Twilley. In addition to their efficiency, the Terps only finished with three errors throughout the set striking the balance Hughes had wanted.
The Buckeyes started out the second set on the offensive, winning seven of the first ten points. Freshman opposite hitter Vanka Bukilic, continued her strong play from the first set notching numerous kills in the first ten points. Ohio State continued their strong play later into the set by extending their lead to 17-11.
Resilience has been a key theme for the Terps this season who battled back with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the set at 17. The middle blocker duo of redshirt sophomore Katie Myers and freshman Rainelle Jones propelled the Terps run.
Both made their presence felt at the net making it very tough for the Buckeyes attackers to find open space. Jones finished with a career-high eight blocks, despite being matched up against the Buckeyes best attacker Bukilic who stands at 6-6.
“A lot of the same repetitive things throughout practice like pressing over, towards the block,” Jones said. “I feel like I worked hard enough to get to it.”
After numerous back and forth points, the Terps put together another 3-0 run to extend the lead to 24-21. Pritchard finished off the set with an emphatic kill, giving the Terps the set victory 25-22. The Terps had four blocks in the second set, compared to zero in the first an integral part of their success.
The Buckeyes came out firing in the third set, winning eight of the first ten points. The biggest difference in the third and fourth sets was the attacking efficiency of the Buckeyes, while the Terps struggled to land many of their attacks.
Ohio State hit at their highest clip of the match, .333, while the Terps hit their lowest at .037 in the third set. The fourth set was a similar story, the Terps struggling offensively, finishing with a .059 hitting percentage compared to the Buckeyes .237.
In the fifth set the Terps came out firing again, with numerous kills and service aces lead by Twilley and junior setter Samantha Snyder, jumping out to a 6-1 lead. Snyder’s back to back aces were part of a great serving night for the Terps finishing with 14 aces, their highest total of the season.
The Buckeyes would bounce back however, taking a 10-8 lead where the Terps would once again have to dig deep and climb out of the deficit. After the Terps battled back to regain the lead, sophomore setter Nicole Alford fed Twilley who smacked the game winning kill past a diving Buckeyes defense.
“It was definitely a great feeling,” Twilley said.” I saw Nicole push it, she gave me a great ball and I saw a pretty open net and I just wanted to stay aggressive and go get it.”
Maryland will now travel to State College and Piscataway to take on two Big Ten Rivals Penn State and Rutgers next Friday and Saturday.
“Now we have to find a way to keep that intensity and focus and do it in someone else’s gym, and that’s another challenge for us,” Hughes said.