Maryland volleyball came out strong right out of the gate against Rutgers in New Brunswick Wednesday night, but was ultimately unable to grab its first Big Ten win of the season.
The Terps jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set and looked like they might be on their way to winning their first conference game. However, despite trailing early on, Rutgers rallied to score four straight points and tie the score.
Rutgers continued to play at a high level, taking control of the set from there. The Scarlet Knights had a 14-10 lead when Maryland used its first timeout. With Kelsey Wicinski serving later in the set, Maryland was able to come within a point of tying it up, and Rutgers called a timeout with the score 23-22.
The home team came out of the timeout and quickly put a point on the board to put themselves at set point. Adreene Elliott responded with a kill on an assist by Whitney Craigo. Craigo had a career-high 54 assists in the match.
At second set point Rutgers responded, and the Terps dropped the set 25-23.
Elliott had another fantastic performance Wednesday, tallying 23 kills. Liz Twilley also had an impressive night with 21 kills and a .314 hitting percentage.
The second set went back and forth early as both teams were able to keep the other within striking distance. Wicinski served one of her three aces to give Maryland a 10-7 lead. Rutgers would come back to tie the score at 11 on an Elliott attack error.
The Terrapins responded well from that point -- taking the lead for good in the set. Behind three straight kills from Elliott and another from Twilley at set point, Maryland was able to seal the deal and take the second set 25-23.
Maryland never led in the third set. The Terrapins quickly fell behind 6-1, and Rutgers kept the them at bay. They were able to get within one point on back-to-back kills from Twilley, but never evened the score. Playing their strongest set of the match, the Scarlet Knights went on to win 25-19 and looked to close it out in the fourth set.
It was a similar scene in the fourth set as the home team again jumped out to a 6-1 lead. Hailey Murray carried her team back into the match with two blocks and a kill. Maryland was within one as the score was 7-6.
An Elliott kill tied the match at eight, and Wicinski later served an ace to give the Terps an 11-9 advantage. Maryland dominated the set from that point on, winning by a score of 25-15. The teams were headed to a decisive fifth set with a first conference victory on the line.
All signs pointed to Maryland winning its first Big Ten match early in the shortened fifth set. With the teams only needing 15 points, an early lead was crucial. The Terrapins quickly found themselves ahead 5-1. They were able to extend the lead to 8-3 before Rutgers started its comeback.
The Scarlet Knights went on a 6-1 run to tie the match at nine. The teams would again tie at 11, but Rutgers would go on to win 15-12. This was a true heartbreaker for a Maryland team that knows its opportunities to win a conference match this season are dwindling.
The two teams will square off again at the Xfinity Pavilion on Saturday night at 7 p.m in the second part of their home- and-home.