clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Maryland Volleyball falls to Illinois in straight sets to open conference play

Ninth-ranked Illinois brought their best to College Park and swept the Terps on Friday night.

Jake Spitz

Since Emily Fraik went down with a season-ending injury against Washington, it has been apparent that Maryland's depth will be tested in every match they play. Without Fraik's size on the front line, Maryland struggled to match the size and physicality of Illinois all night. Illinois finished with eleven total team blocks, compared to Maryland's three.

Set One:

Despite a raucous, record-breaking crowd of 1,752 attendees, Illinois was able to control the early portion of the match, as they jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead. Maryland Head Coach Steve Aird called a timeout.

The Terps came out of the timeout on a 3-0 run, causing the XFINITY Pavilion crowd to roar. The crowd tonight was not only the largest in Maryland volleyball history, it created an atmosphere that Aird knew was very special.

"I was really happy with the crowd and the turnout, as well as the support from the community," Aird explained. "When we got here as a staff they were averaging three hundred people a match. We were 25th in the country last year in attendance and I believe that is going to only go north, especially as the team continues to improve."

Despite dropping the first set 25-15, Adreene' Elliott shined for the Terps as she tallied five kills and three service aces. With the loss of Fraik, Elliott should see an increase in production and Aird believes the best is yet to come.

"Elliott had a match that is going to make people understand that she is one of the better players in the conference as long as she can stay healthy."

Poor setting for the Terps combined with tough defense from Illinois was a theme of the night. The Illini had six blocks in the first set. That, combined with ten Maryland errors made it tough for the Terps to get any form of consistency out of their offense.

Set Two:

Maryland opened the second set playing solid volleyball. Although it was early and the score was only tied 3-3, the Terps showed flashes of excellence. Liz Twilley, however, struggled. Three of her ten errors came in a row, giving the Illini a 6-3 lead that they did not relinquish..

This isn't the first time Twilley has struggled against a quality team. She struggled mightily against Washington, a team that plays a similar brand of volleyball to the one the Terps faced tonight in Illinois. Aird knows that Twilley's struggles are not solely her fault as he explained: "Part of [her struggles] is that I'm asking her to do a lot. She was leading the team in offense and with the loss of Emily [Fraik] other teams can target her," Aird continued. "Her numbers won't be good but I loved how she played. She was brave, and she took swings right until the end."

Illinois extended their lead to 13-7, prompting Aird to call timeout to calm his team down and encourage his setters to play much better. "I didn't like the performance of our setters. I think they need to get better defensively and at distributing the ball."

There was not much for Maryland to do, dropping the second set 25-15. The Terps hurt themselves again, committing twelve errors and hitting for a negative attack percentage.

Senior captain Amy Dion credited the Illini defense when discussing the offensive struggles the team faced tonight. "They're a great team. They also are an extremely good blocking team; probably final four good. We just have to learn how to compete with the best," Dion said. "They're physical, and that's what we're training to be one day."

Set Three:

Maryland quickly fell behind 3-0 to open the third set. It was Elliott who continued to provide an offensive spark as she slammed home a kill to put the Terps on the board.

UMD was able to fire up the crowd as they came within two points of the lead in the middle of the match. A five-point Illinois lead led to a Maryland timeout. Maryland played their best volleyball of the night in the third set as they limited the Illini to only one block. Elliott continued her impressive performance, notching six kills.

Illinois closed out the match, taking the third set 25-17.

Dion was satisfied with the way her team competed tonight but knew there is always room to improve. "I thought there were times where we could have competed a little more. We also could have helped our freshmen that haven't played in this type of environment yet."


A major problem for the Terps tonight was the setting, which is going to hurt them all season long if it doesn't improve. Every aspect of the team has room for improvement, and Dion knows it starts with her.

"It starts with passing. We have to make sure we can give our setters great balls so they can put it where the hitters want it," Dion continued. "It all starts back with the passers and I'm going to take responsibility for that and make sure they have better opportunities to set."

Aird, on the other hand, stressed the importance of good setting. When asked what he thought throughout the match, he explained: "I thought our setters aren't very good and we need better setting. Your setters have to give your hitters a situation where they can have success. They're both capable. They'll do a couple things that are flashes of brilliance, and then some not."

There is no rest for the weary. The Northwestern Wildcats come to town tomorrow night after defeating Rutgers in straight sets Friday night. Although the Wildcats are certainly not in the same category as Illinois, Aird knows they are a very capable team.

"[Northwestern] is an awfully good team. Hopefully there are some areas we can exploit, but maybe not. I expect our team to come out with the same amount of energy as tonight, if not higher. This conference doesn't give you any nights off and I keep telling the kids that."

The Terrapins will look to even their record tomorrow night against a tough, but beatable Northwestern team. If Maryland can play with a form of consistency and aggressiveness, there should be good things to come.