There is no break in the Terps schedule the rest of the season. As the team gets prepared for conference play, their competition becomes much stronger. After losing last night to Washington University, the team had to rebound quickly against host Oklahoma who had played a rigorous schedule thus far. Maryland battled, but eventually lost 3-1.
Similar to the beginning of most of their matches of late, the Terps were able to hang around and play solid volleyball at the beginning of the match. Adreene' Elliott, Abby Bentz, Hailey Murray, and Liz Twilley all had a kill early in the match. A few errors by the Sooners also assisted in keeping the Terps in the match early. An Elliott kill made the score 9-8. It was Elliott again answering the call, as she powered home another kill to make the score 12-9 after a quick 3-0 rally by the Oklahoma front line.
Maryland's offensive attack was never able to close the Sooner lead to less than three points, though. The Sooners were propelled by a 10-0 run in the latter stages of the match, and cruised to a 25-13 victory.
Yet again the Terps responded well in the second set of the match. It was a set of runs early, as the Terps opened up with a 3-0 run. After exchanging blows, the Sooners quickly responded with a streak of five points of their own -- only to spark another 3-0 spurt from the Maryland hitters.
Things seemed to be getting away from a desperate Maryland squad late, as they fell behind 20-14. But they responded well, going on an 8-3 run, and narrowing the score to 23-22. Oklahoma slammed home a kill, and the Terps were facing set point. A Twilley kill made the score 24-23, but Oklahoma won the set on a service error, and took a commanding 2-0 lead.
Unlike their match last night against Washington, UMD responded well to being down 2-0. And as Coach Aird explained in the OU Invitational preview, he wanted to see his team compete.
The set got off to a rough start very quickly as the Terps fell behind 6-1. But the team answered and scored five points while holding OU to one, making the score 7-6. It was a close set all the way through, as the score was tied at both eleven, and twenty. Although the Sooners reclaimed the lead coming out of both ties, the Terps continued to battle, yet again tying the score at 23 off an Oklahoma attack error.
Oklahoma called a timeout, noticing the Terps were surging as the set grew longer. Out of the timeout the Terps scored on yet another attack error. The Sooner's coaching staff gathered the team together yet again, but Maryland won the set on an Elliott kill. The score was 25-23, and the momentum was quickly swung in favor of the visitors.
There have been many instances recently where the Terps lack of depth due to injury has shown late in matches. And although things seemed promising early, once the Sooners claimed the lead, they never gave it back.
The Terps were able to hold a lead through six points, with Ashlyn MacGregor leading the charge. MacGregor's two kills, another from Elliott, and a service ace from freshman Kelsey Wicinski had the team feeling good early on. But OU never panicked, keeping the score close, and then taking a 7-6 lead. Maryland never saw the lead again, despite rallying to tie the score at fifteen.
The Sooners would go on to close out the match scoring ten points while the Terps only tallied five. It was a fantastic effort from a thin Maryland team, but ultimately it was not enough, losing the set 25-20, and the match 3-1.
It isn't a secret that Maryland is going to have a hard time competing with elite competition, especially with a roster plagued by injuries. But winning a set against Oklahoma today was important. The Sooners had come into the match having already faced three teams ranked in the top 25. So they are a battle-tested team that will not cave during times of adversity. It was also nice to see Twilley get back on track against a team with a much less menacing front line. Twilley totaled eleven kills with only three errors.
Maryland's final match of the OU Invitation will be at 5:30 tonight as they take the court against number three ranked Southern California. Although this could be a very tough match-up, it will be the final test before Big Ten play begins.