Coming off a strong straight-set win over Northwestern on Friday, the Terps were looking to continue their winning ways against No. 4 Illinois. The Illini’s strong offense and defense defeated the Terps in straight sets, who move to 15-11 on the season and 6-8 in the conference with six matches remaining this season.
The Illini finished the match with 11 blocks as well as a .468 hitting percentage. Senior setter Jordyn Poulter leads the conference in assists, while senior outside hitter Jacqueline Quade is tied for the conference lead in kills.
Throughout all three sets, the Illini offensive balance made it difficult for the Terps blockers to predict where the attacks were coming. Their lowest hitting percentage of the match was .379 in the first set. The trio of senior middle blocker Alli Bastianelli, redshirt junior outside hitter Beth Prince and Quade combined for 29 kills.
“They definitely have a really balanced offense, Poulter is elite she can keep them in tempo,” senior outside hitter Liz Twilley. “The tempo they run their offense is just really fast.”
In addition to their offensive balance, the Illini out-blocked the Terps 11-4. Bastianelli spearheaded the defensive efforts alongside Poulter, making it difficult for the Terps blockers to find open space. The Terps struggled serving as well, finishing with five service errors and only one ace, allowing the Illini defense to stay in system.
“I thought we served really poorly, it’s not just service errors three of the first five points were service errors into the net,” head Coach Adam Hughes said.
The whole match the Terps finished with a total of 21 attack errors tough to come back from against a top-5 opponent. The Illini only finished with eight attack errors, including none in a dominant second set.
“It’s a fine line, you have to be really aggressive if you are going to beat somebody who has the talent that Illinois does,” Hughes said. “If you let them dictate the terms, you’re gonna be in some trouble because you know they’re really good.”
The Terps will not have to wait long for a turnaround traveling to Ann Arbor to take on No.13 Michigan on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Columbus taking on Ohio State on Saturday.
“We don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the loss, we’ve got a big match coming up on Wednesday and it’s time to move forward,” Hughes said.