I don't have much good news to report from Friday's Terrapin volleyball match against the fifteenth ranked and ACC leading Duke Blue Devils who completed a relatively easy 3-0 sweep of the Terps. The loss drops Maryland below .500 for the season and to 4-9 in the ACC. Once again, it looks as though a season that started with some promise has been short circuited as the season winds down. Maryland needs to sweep their remaining seven matches - five of which are on the road where the Terps have only one win - as well as upsetting number thirteen North Carolina when the Tar Heels come to College Park on November 24 to finish the season with a winning record in the ACC.
The first set opened promisingly for Maryland as they ran out to an early lead of 3-0 and extended the margin to five at 6-1. With the score standing at 7-3 on a surprise kill from Amy Dion after a Sarah Harper dig, Duke ran off six straight to take a 9-7 lead before an Ashleigh Crutcher kill slowed Dukes momentum. The Terps pulled even at eleven and played evenly through the middle of the set before the Blue Devils edged out by three at 20-17. Crutcher's kill won a sideout for Maryland and the junior outside hitter followed that with back to back aces that brought the Terps even, the crowd of over 500 to their feet and caused Duke to call a timeout. The ploy failed to stop Crutcher's momentum as she launched a third consecutive ace before Duke won a sideout to even the score. The Devils won three of the next four to reach set point at 22-24 but Maryland fought back and staved off the two set points. Duke had another chance at 25-24 but again Maryland held them off. The set ended at 25-27 on a Duke serve that hit the tape and trickled over the net for an ace.
The second set also started well for Maryland as they opened an early 5-3 lead. With the score standing at 5-4, the set took an odd turn as the teams split the next seven points all on either net violations or service errors. An 8-3 run put the Devils up by five at 16-11 but again the Terps fought back to score five of the next six points before eventually tying the score at eighteen. However, Duke stepped up their game and closed out the set by winning seven of the next eight points. The Terps who had hit a reasonable .222 for the first set, hit -.089 in the second and had only three blocks to Duke's five despite Maryland being second in the ACC in blocks per set.
The Terps picked up their hitting percentage in the third set and managed to stay even with the Blue Devils for the first eighteen points before a three point Duke run gave the visitors a lead they would never relinquish. The Devils opened up the lead to five and though Maryland made a mini run to twice close within two, the outcome never really felt in doubt. Duke eventually took the set by a 25-20 final. Next up for the Terps is a Sunday match with Wake Forest.
Though it wasn't the last home game, Sunday was senior day for the Maryland volleyball team. I stopped by to see Maryland's three seniors, Carlisle Abele, Mary Cushman, and Sarah Harper honored prior to the game and missed the opening few minutes of the women's basketball game because both events had a 2 pm scheduled start. One of the seniors was also feted during and after the match and if you've been paying attention throughout the season, you can identify that person before I reveal it below. The Terps face the Demon Deacons and, after Friday's disappointing loss to Duke got a much needed straight set win over the visitors from Winston-Salem.
As for the match itself, Maryland got off to a quick 4-1 lead in the first set and though Wake Forest tied the set at eight, the Terps never trailed. Adreene Elliott's kill gave Maryland a sideout and a lead they would never relinquish. With Amy Dion serving, the Terps built on the lead running off another three straight to go up by four. Maryland extended the lead to five at 14-9 on a block by Emily Fraik and Ashlyn MacGregor. The Deacons closed the gap to 18-15 but the Terrapins strung three straight points together to build a six point margin. Maryland closed the set at 25-18 on an ace from Dani Bozzini.
The second set was more competitive with the squads essentially trading the first 14 points before Wake Forest edged out to a 9-7 lead. A block by Kelsey Hrebenach and Emily Fraik gave the Terps a sideout and brought them within one at 11-12. Maryland then ran off three straight behind Whitney Craigo's serving that included an ace from the freshman. The Terps held onto the lead even extending it to three before the Deacons rallied to knot the score at seventeen. (And kudos to anyone else who remembered the Janis Ian song of the same name.) After a Terrapin time out, a kill by Ashleigh Crutcher gave Maryland a sideout and the lead. This time, with Amy Dion serving and getting ample assists from Crutcher and Mary Cushman, the Terps put together a timely run of four additional points to go up 22-17. This proved enough of a margin for the Terps to hold on for a 25-23 win.
Coming out of the break, it was Wake Forest that got off to the hot start in the third set opening an early lead. Trailing 3-6, it became Crutcher time. The junior from Raleigh had a sideout kill then stepped to the service line where she launched an ace and set up two more Terrapin points to give Maryland their first lead. The visitors briefly recaptured the lead but the momentum had clearly swung in the Terps' favor. After tying the score at nine on a block by Cushman and Elliott, the Terps rattled off three more points to retake the lead that they would hold to the end of the match. Sometime between the Terps taking that 12-9 lead and a Wake Forest timeout with Maryland up 18-13, senior Sarah Harper recorded her fourteenth dig of the match and 1,669th of her career surpassing Nicole Lantagne who played for Maryland between 1990 and 1993 to become the all-time Terrapin leader in that category. According to reports from the game, the announcement was made during the course of play and at the timeout. Harper finished the match with sixteen digs and will be able to add to that total over the Terrapins' final six matches. The Terps went on to win the set 25-19 on a kill by freshman Alex Brown. After the match, Coach Tim Horsman presented Harper with a Maryland Pride shovel to honor her achievement. Ashleigh Crutcher led the Terps with 12 kills and Mary Cushman celebrated her senior day with 10 kills and a team leading .350 hitting percentage.
The Terps actually have one final home game when the thirteenth ranked UNC Tar Heels come to College Park on November 24.