Bolstered by the return of junior outside hitter Mary Cushman, steady play from sophomores Ashleigh Crutcher and Adrenee Elliott and strong contributions from freshmen Kelsey Hrebenach and Amy Dion, the Terps ended a six game slide with a 3-0 sweep of American University on the road at Bender Arena. Freshman Emily Fraik got the Terps off to a good start immediately breaking AU’s serve with a kill off a set from Remy McBain and giving Maryland a lead they’d never relinquish. The set stayed tight with the Eagles closing to 6-5 before the Terps ran off 8 of the next 10 points largely behind the serving of Sarah Harper and Remy McBain to stretch the lead to 14-7. With Maryland leading 20-16, AU put together a small run to close to within two at 20-18 but a block by Hrenbach followed by some strong serving from Dion brought the Terps to set point. AU managed to stave off one set point but a kill by Crutcher off a set from McBain closed out the set at 25-19.
The second set was a set of runs with AU sprinting out to a 6-0 lead only to be reeled back in as the Terps ran off seven consecutive points of their own starting the run with a kill by Hrenbach which was bolstered by strong serving that included an ace by Dion. AU then put together a string of 3 points to retake the lead at 9-7. The Terps we able to pull even off an AU attack error and a service ace off the hand of freshman Mackenzie Dagostino. From this point neither team was able to put together another cluster of scoring and the match remained a back and forth affair with 11 ties and 5 lead changes overall. Eventually, an attack error by AU allowed the Terps to even the score at 20 and regain the serve. Remy McBain took control from that point serving out the last five points to give Maryland a 25-20 second set win.
The third set more closely mirrored the first with the Terps immediately breaking AU’s serve off a kill from Hrenbach. As she had in the first set Amy Dion held her first service point before losing her second. However, the 2-1 advantage was one Maryland would not relinquish. Maryland built their lead to as large as six leading 15-9. The Eagles countered with some small runs and closed to within one at 19-18 but the Terps maintained their composure, recaptured the serve and ran off 3 consecutive points on Dagostino’s serve before sealing the match 25-21 on a smack down from Mary Cushman. Statistically, the Terps were led by Ashleigh Crutcher's 14 kills. Remy McBain added 21 assists, Amy Dion had a team high16 digs and Mary Cushman led the hitters with a .421 percentage. Crutcher and Elliott were also solid hitting .400 and .321 respectively.
The Terps have a home series this weekend looking for payback against ACC foe Georgia Tech on Friday night at 7 pm and seeking a season sweep of Clemson on Sunday at 2 pm. The games are free and will be played at the Comcast Center Pavilion.
Meanwhile, over a Ludwig Field, the number on ranked Maryland Men’s Soccer team was able to escape a feisty Lehigh team securing a 2-1 victory with a goal in the 88th minute. Leading scorer Patrick Mullins got the Terps off early with a shot on goal in the second minute. Maryland continue to pressure the Mountain Hawks earning their first corner in the 10th minute but Helge Leikvang’s shot sailed high. Mullins was able to break through in the 12th minute with an easy stroke into an empty net after getting behind the Lehigh keeper. Alex Shinsky and Tsubasa Endoh garnered assists. Maryland continued to press forward ending the half out shooting Lehigh 12-1 and with a 5-2 edged in corners. Still the Terps were able to take a lead of only 1-0 into the locker room.
The Terps came roaring out of the locker room cramming 5 shots and a corner into the first 13 minutes of the half but remained unable to capitalize. When Leikvang’s shot was blocked, Lehigh was able to get a man out on a fast break. They took advantage of the 1 on 1 chance and evened the score at 1 all in the 59th minute. This gave the Hawks some confidence and they went toe to toe with the Terps for the next 23 minutes even manufacturing the best chance to score with s shot that hit the post. This close call seemd to wake the Terps up and they went on a relentless attack in the Lehigh end getting off 5 shots and a corner over the next 5 minutes before Mullins was able to find the back of the net from 5 yards off the near post with his second goal of the night. The Terps held on to claim the 2-1 win. Maryland plays their last home game on Saturday night facing off against the Clemson Tigers on senior night. (Thanks to my posse for filling me in on this game as I was taking in the volleyball match.)