Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Terps split final two matches of the season

Maryland volleyball closed out their regular season splitting their final two matches, defeating Iowa in a five-set thriller before losing to No. 6 Nebraska in straight sets.

Sophomore outside hitter Erika Pritchard had a career night on Friday finishing with 31 kills in the five set thriller the highest total by a Maryland player since 2010. Pritchard broke her previous career high of 24 kills from earlier this season.

The Terps started out the match strong, hitting .364 in set one. Pritchard, as well as redshirt freshman middle blocker Katie Myers and senior outside hitter Liz Twilley, consistently found gaps in the Hawkeye defense. Both teams went on runs throughout, however, Pritchard finished out the set with an emphatic kill.

In set two, the Terps offense struggled, hitting .143. The Hawkeyes took advantage of critical points late in the set to tie the match at one set apiece. Starting out set three, the Terps took a 5-0 lead, which they did not relinquish. Myers was a key catalyst in the third-set victory, executing three straight kills to extend the Maryland lead to six.

The Hawkeyes dictated set four throughout, generating offense from all over the court. The Hawkeyes finished the set with a .383 hitting percentage – their highest of the match. Despite losing set four, the Terps maintained their composure in a tightly contested fifth set.

Iowa took a 7-4 lead with led by redshirt junior outside hitter Meghan Buzzerio, leading the way finishing with 23 kills on the night. After a timeout from head coach Adam Hughes, the Terps won four of the next five points to regain the lead, 8-7. Pritchard finished with four kills in the final 10 points to close the door on the Hawkeye comeback.

The Terps did not have much time to rest, traveling on a five-hour bus ride from Iowa City to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the No. 6-ranked Cornhuskers. It was senior night for the Cornhuskers in front of a packed house of over 8,000 fans.

Nebraska’s stifling defense made it difficult for the Terps to find their offensive rhythm all night. Maryland finished with a .021 hitting percentage on the night, with no player surpassing eight kills. The Cornhuskers are 13-0 this season when holding their opponents to under a .100 hitting percentage.

The Cornhuskers averaged a .414 hitting percentage on the night, the highest the Terps have allowed this season. Offensive threats came from all over the court for Nebraska, however senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke led the way with 16 kills. In addition to her 16 kills, Foecke hit .577 – one of her best performances of the season. One of the keys entering the match for Maryland was limiting the success of Foecke, the main catalyst for the Nebraska offense.

Foecke was in a rhythm throughout as was sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins, who entered the match averaging a .395 hitting percentage. Stivrins finished with a .500 hitting percentage, finding the Terps defense in advantageous positions.

After the Cornhuskers controlled play in the first two sets, the Terps began to fight back in set three. The defense held Nebraska to their lowest hitting percentage of the match, generating more blocks at the net in the process.

Myers finished with three blocks in set three, while freshman middle blocker Rainelle Jones finished with two. Pritchard finished with three of her match total seven kills in set three. Cutting the deficit to two, the Terps appeared to be back in the match, but Nebraska compiled a 5-0 run to regain a stranglehold of the set.

The Terps finish the regular season at 18-14 and 9-11 in the Big Ten, looking to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005. The selection show begins at 8:30 p.m.