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UMD VB sweeps Western Carolina, moves to 7-0 for first time in a decade

Maryland continued their hot start to the season by sweeping the Catamounts at the XFINITY Center on day two of the DC Classic.

Noah Niederhoffer

Maryland returned to the friendly confines of the XFINITY Center for day two of the DC Classic. They took both matches the day before in a thrilling, come-from-behind win over Penn where they trailed 2-0 and were facing match point and in a four-setter with Howard.

That perfect 6-0 mark matched their start from last season. You would have to go back to the 2005-2006 season to find the last time that the Terps had a winning streak longer than six to start the season.

Set One

Without the services of Angel Gaskin, the Terps had even less depth on the front line. Maryland battled back and forth with Western Carolina early on and staked themselves to a 10-7 lead. Hailey Murray crushed a ball to make it 13-7 in favor of the Terrapins. The Catamounts called time after Maryland extended the lead to seven.

To keep his best players on the floor, head coach Steve Aird rotated Ashlyn MacGregor to the back line and put Adreene` Elliott, Murray and Liz Twilley up front. Emily Fraik and Murray combined for a block and Fraik added a kill to give Maryland a 19-9 lead.

Maryland asserted their dominance up front in the first set. WCU came back to make it 21-15 and Aird called for a time-out. Kelsey Wicinski couldn't return a serve but Elliott's block made it 22-16. MacGregor made two blocks in a row before Kelsey Hrebenach got a kill for the Terps. Hrebenach struck again to give Maryland their first set point.

MacGregor finished off the set with a kill off of a pretty set from Carlotta Oggioni. The Terps took set number one 25-18. That was one of the cleanest sets of volleyball that Maryland has played all season long. They hit at a .486 clip and had 17 kills with no attacking errors.

Set Two

Twilley continued to build on her solid performances the day before. She, Elliott, Murray, and Hrebenach were in attack mode at the net. WCU showed the same fight that they did in the first set. Maryland was playing well but only led 12-9.

Fraik's attacking error made it 12-11 but Maryland pushed the lead back to two. Murray's block made it 16-12 and the Catamounts called time to try and keep the set from getting away from them. Maryland led 19-14 and Abby Bentz's ace got the Terps to 20.

WCU refused to go quietly and closed the gap to 23-19. Aird called for a time-out and Fraik came out of the huddle and got a kill to give Maryland set point. MacGregor got a kill to take the second set, 25-19, and give Maryland a chance to get their fourth sweep of the season.

While it wasn't as clean as the first set, Maryland still hit .342 and had 18 kills with only five attacking errors. Through two sets, Maryland had gifted the Catamounts as many points off of service errors as they did off of attacking errors.

Set Three

Elliott crushed a ball to give Maryland the first point of the third set but WCU got it back on Bentz's service error. Bentz has been having problems with her serve. She had five service errors against Penn and three in today's match. Maryland continued to benefit from WCU's poor serving and kills from Fraik, Hrebenach, and MacGregor gave Maryland a 7-4 lead.

MacGregor's kill got the Terps to double digits and she combined with Twilley for a block to give Maryland an 11-5 lead. WCU called time and responded with a kill but Hrebenach pushed it back to six with a kill of her own. Aird called a time-out as the Catamounts came back once again, pulling to within three.

Bentz's ace made it 14-10 and Murray's block pushed the lead to five. Elliott spiked a ball that WCU misplayed and the lead had gone from three to six very quickly. An attacking error on the Catamounts and a kill from Twilley made it 18-10 and all of the sudden, Maryland was running away with the set.

Murray helped lead the Terps down the stretch with a pair of kills. Maryland had a comfortable 22-14 lead and an attacking error from WCU gave the Terps match point. Twilley's block gave Maryland the set 25-16 and Maryland swept the Western Carolina Catamounts to improve to 7-0 on the season.


Maryland played probably their cleanest match of this young season and that was a big key against a Western Carolina team that Maryland had to work to put away.

Maryland had some players out and they found a way to get the job done. They got out to a lead in each set, extended them and weathered the storm as WCU came back each time. Maryland settled down, scored and won the sets.

The Terps were very balanced offensively. While Twilley and Fraik were the only players with double digit kills, Elliott had nine, MacGregor had eight, Murray had seven, and Hrebenach had six. Twilley crushed balls at a .526 clip and MacGregor hit an absurd .615.

In the end, the 25-18, 25-19, and 25-16 scores don't indicate just how hard Maryland worked to get them.

After their tilt with George Mason tonight, Maryland takes on Texas Tech, GW, and Navy next Friday and Saturday.

Bottom Line

Maryland played their cleanest and most complete match of the season against Western Carolina. They didn't really beat themselves outside of their seven service errors but that number is mitigated by Maryland's six service aces.

The Terps hit .404 as a team and only committed nine attacking errors in the match. That is a sign that Maryland's attackers are making good decisions and are putting themselves in good attacking position.

Carlotta Oggioni had one of her best, if not the best, game of the season and she is trying to separate herself from Bentz at the setter position.

This is a great start for Maryland. They are improving, if nothing else, in the win-loss column but there is clearly a difference in mentality and intensity from some of the players. Maryland almost certainly won't start 14-0 like the 2005-2006 team did but they have a real chance to get to nine or ten wins before they hit the Oklahoma Invitational and Big Ten competition.

Western Carolina isn't a great team but they're a decent team that plays hard and is well-coached. This was a nice, workmanlike win that will give Maryland a nice boost going into their final match of the DC Classic against George Mason. Maryland got the win and stays hot. Maryland hadn't started a season 7-0 in a decade. They have now. That is the bottom line.