In their fifth match in Big Ten play this season, the Maryland Terrapins showed they are a team struggling to remain competitive. Despite early success in their match against Minnesota Friday night, Coach Aird and company are in desperate need of a victory. The unfortunate part for the team is that the conference they are in will not make that an easy task.
Aird said it himself, "This conference is unforgiving to the teams that are really good. We're a long way from that."
Adreene Elliott continued to shine for the Terps early in the match. She grabbed her first kill and followed it with a solo block to give her team a spark, as well as a 2-1 advantage. Elliott finished the match with two solo blocks, making her six away from sole possession of the most solo blocks in UMD volleyball history.
Unlike most nights, Elliott had a partner in crime. Angel Gaskin had one of the best offensive games of her young career. The freshman had four kills on four attempts in the first set, which helped the Terps compete with one of the best teams in the country.
The set was close throughout, but the turning point may have came when Maryland held a 23-22 lead. A long rally featuring strong play by both teams ended with Minnesota tying the match. The Golden Gophers rallied from there, quickly serving an ace to bring them to set point. A strong block won them the set, and the Terps were in a 1-0 hole.
Gaskin played an extremely solid first half, and a respectable match. When discussing her play, Coach Aird explained that there is more to volleyball than just hitting.
"Offensively she was really good," Aird said. "But if her goal is to be one of the best players in this conference, she's going to learn to do more than just hit."
It all seemed to get worse for the mighty Terrapins after the crucial first set. As Aird explained, "I thought Minnesota kept getting better, and we declined a little bit as the match went on."
A rally similar to that of the first set took place early in the second. Again, though, it was won by Minnesota as they took a 5-3 lead. They extended their lead to 7-3 and Aird gathered his team during a timeout.
Elliott came out of the timeout with a much-needed kill to cut the Minnesota lead to three.
Minnesota controlled the majority of the set from that point, cruising to a 25-16 victory.
The visitors did a very good job limiting the impact of Elliott tonight. Although she had the second highest total in kills for the match with 10, she had 11 errors and hit -.028%. Much of that has to do with the amount of attempts she's receiving, but Minnesota had a solid plan to make sure she did not get out of their control.
Maryland led early in the set, and remained competitive for the early portion. Hailey Murray and Whitney Craigo combined for a block to give their team a 7-4 lead. Elliott followed with a kill and Minnesota was forced to use a timeout.
The Terps lead was stolen when they had four contacts while attempting to get the back back on the Minnesota side. The score was tied at 10, and then suddenly Maryland was behind 11-10. Aird quickly called a timeout, and Liz Twilley had a kill to tie the score again.
Minnesota gained the lead again and then extended it to 18-15 prompting yet another UMD timeout. Murray had a kill out of the timeout, but it was too little too late. Minnesota prevailed, winning the set 25-19, and the match 3-0.
It's the same story for the Terps. They just have to keep fighting until they figure out something that works. There is no sense in beating a dead horse here. The team knows it, and so does everybody else. It will be interesting to see how they respond tomorrow night as Wisconsin will be the next team to visit College Park.