Volleyball and Wrestling salvage an otherwise tough day for the Olympic Sports

The Terps had two shots at bringing home an ACC Championship today down in North Carolina but fell short in each instance. So let me get the rough news out of the way first.

Top seeded North Carolina hosted the ACC field hockey championship but Maryland playing their 3rd game in 4 days came out with the early pressure generating an early shot on goal and a sequence of three penalty corners in the 14th minute but were unable to capitalize. Carolina used some great speed to get a three on two and was able to break through taking the 1-0 lead in the 29th minute. The goal seemed to energize the Tar Heels who put the Maryland defense and goalie under pressure for the next four minutes. Maryland had a chance to tie the score with under a minute remaining in the half but Katie Gerzabek was unable to control a cross from Jill Witmer. Gerzabek fouled a UNC defender and the Heels used a quick restart to mount a counterattack that resulted in a goal with 18 seconds remaining in the half.

The Terps were able to cut the lead in half with a goal from Sarah Sprink off a penalty corner in the 50th minute. Now it was Maryland that was energized and pressuring Carolina. The Terps, wearing white for the first time in the tournament, generated another penalty corner in the 54th minute. Carolina’s goalie saved the shot from Sprink. The carom came off to Jill Witmer at the far post but her attempt to redirect the shot went just wide. Carolina was able to effectively put the game on ice three minutes later when a centering pass deflected off the stick of Harriet Tibble into Maryland’s goal.

Down by two goals, the Terps pulled their goalie with about 6 minutes remaining. Maryland generated a few opportunities with Jill Witmer making a diving tip in of a shot off the stick of Katie Gerzabek with 90 seconds remaining in the game. Carolina intercepted a crossing pass deep in the Maryland end and scored an empty net goal for the final margin.

Meanwhile, history would be made just up the road at the WakeMed soccer complex when Maryland took the field to face off against a red hot Virginia Cavalier team that came into the game with four straight wins over ranked opponents including number one seed Florida State. The game marked the first time no team from a Carolina school participated in the ACC title game.

UVA got off to a quick start peppering the Terps with 4 shots in the first 5 minutes. They would break the ice with the first of four goals on the day with a one on one shot from about 15 yards that hit the back of the net. Virginia maintained pressure on Maryland and the Terps would manage only one shot for the rest of half off the foot of Danielle Hubka from about 22 yards that was safely blocked by the Cavalier defense.

In the regular season match up, the Terps trailed by the 1-0 score at halftime and scored a barrage of 3 goals in a 13 minute span to take a 3-1 win. Virginia would nearly mirror that in today’s championship game scoring goals in the 53rd and 64th minutes before getting a breakaway goal in the 86th minute to reach the final margin and ending Jonathan Morgan’s hopes of becoming the only coach to win an ACC title in his first year. Like their field hockey counterparts, the Terps will return to College Park, regroup and prepare for the NCAA tournament.

It was senior day at the Comcast Pavilion as Maryland took the floor to face the Duke Blue Devils. The Terps honored their two player senior class of Remy McBain and Caitlin Honoring tradition, Adams took the floor in a starting role despite an injury that had kept her sidelined for the past several matches. The first set got off to a rocky start for the Terps as Duke ran out to a 5-1 lead but a Duke service error followed by a Maryland service ace closed the gap to 5-3. Maryland evened the score following a kill by sophomore Adreene Elliott and two Duke attack errors. The set remained tense, taut, and close with neither team able to string together enough points to lead by more than two. With the set tied at 16, the Terps were able to build their only two point lead off a kill from Remy McBain and a block by junior Mary Cushman. Duke rallied back with three points of their own to take a 19-18 lead but the Terps took two in a row to pull back in front at 20-19. Duke pushed back to take a 21-20 lead and the Terps again responded in kind to move ahead 22-21 on kills from Friday’s heroine freshman Kelsey Hrebenach and Mary Cushman. After a time out, the Durham devils scored three straight to get to set point but a kill from sophomore Ashleigh Crutcher and an attack error allowed the Terps to stave off 2 set points and knot the score at 24. Keeping with the pattern of a set that featured 13 ties and 6 lead changes, Duke scored the next two points to take the set 26-24.

The second set started as a mirror image of the first with Maryland racing out to early leads of 5-0 and 7-1. The early burst featured 3 kills from freshman Emily Fraik and service aces from Cushman and Hrebenach. The Blue Devils began to chip away at the Terrapin lead drawing within one at 9-8 before eventually tying the score at 15. The set settled into a rhythm of alternating points with tie scores occurring at each point up to twenty-three all. A Duke error gave the Terps a set point and freshman Mackenzie Dagostino served up an ace to close it out.

Neither team could gain any significant advantage in the third set which, like the second set had 10 ties. Trailing 5-4, two kills from Cushman sandwiched around a Duke error allowed the Terps to take their first lead of the set at 7-5. Believe it or not, Duke would answer with three straight of their own to regain the lead at 8-7 followed, of course, by three straight from Maryland and a 10-8 lead for the home team. Once again, it would be Duke’s turn for a 3 point run and a lead of 11-10. By this point the crowd of 458 had pretty well realized that they would not have many relaxing moments in this match. The Terrapins were finally able to edge out to a 2 point lead at 15-13 behind kills from Elliott and Cushman. Just when it appeared that Maryland would be able to maintain this slim margin, a block by Duke tied the score at 18. But a Duke service error and another service ace from Hrebenach once again gave the Terps a slim working margin at 20-18. Duke scored to close to 20-19 but a kill from Fraik and back to back aces from Dagostino gave Maryland a more comfortable 23-19 lead. Trailing 24-20, the Blue Devils were able to stave off 2 set points but an emphatic kill from Cushman sealed the set by a whopping margin of 3.

The fourth set would be even more tightly contested than the first three with 17 ties and 8 lead changes. Maryland’s largest lead would be one. Early in the set, the Terps would eke out leads at 3-2, 5-4 and 7-6 with the last coming off a kill by McBain. Although they would tie the score at each juncture from 12 through 16, Maryland wouldn’t regain the lead until and error by Duke put them ahead 17-16. The visitors scored six of the next nine to take the largest lead of the set for either team at 22-19 but the Terps wouldn’t go down easily tying the score behind kills from Elliott and Cushman. The teams traded points with Maryland again tying the score at 23 but Duke would force a fifth set by taking the next two points.

Duke led off serving in the fifth set but a kill from Ashleigh Crutcher gave the Terps an immediate advantage that expanded quickly to 5-0 behind 4 straight scores off the serving of Hrebenach. While in earlier sets, the home team showed they had fight, it seemed they also did not like prosperity either and again the visitors from Durham climbed slowly back into the set closing to 9-7 and 11-9. The Terps settled down, though, and consecutive kills from Hrebenach and Crutcher closed the thrilling 5 set match at 15-10.

Remy McBain would close out her home career in style nearly scoring a triple double with 9 kills, a team leading 35 assists, and 12 digs. Mary Cushman and Mackensie Dagostino also had double-doubles with Cushman leading the way with 18 kills plus 14 digs abd Dagostino supplementing McBain’s 35 assist effort with 25 of her own and equaling Cushman’s total of 14 digs. Although Ashleigh Crutcher had her string of matches with 20 or more kills end at three she still added 16 for the match. Freshman Emily Fraik led the Terps with a .349 hitting percentage and reached double digits in kills for the first time in her career. Defensive play often gets shorted in these write ups because a dig rarely ends a point but the Terp defense was solid today scoring a total of 79 digs led by freshman Amy Dion’s 26 some of which were spectacular. The Terps will finish the season with 5 matches on the road beginning Friday night in Charlottesville.

In a nod to my friend Duck, here are the results of today’s wrestling matches. The 15th ranked Terps took both matches routing Johns Hopkins 40-6 and handling West Virginia 24-10. Shane Gentry, Geoffrey Alexander, Jimmy Sheptock, and Dallas Brown won both matches in which they wrestled. All-American Josh Asper coming off his impressive 3-1 win over Illinois All-American Jordan Blanton in last night’s NWCA All-Star Classic won his only match of the day. The Terps will wrestle next on Saturday in the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Classic in Brockport, NY.

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