It was 24 hours and 268 miles later, but it was the same result for Maryland volleyball as it lost in straight sets for the second straight match. This time, the No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Terps 3-0 in Madison. While Maryland is yet to win a set against a ranked opponent this season, the improvement throughout the three sets is something to take heart from, losing by set scores of 25-12, 25-18, and 25-21.
Maryland had a 1-0 first-set lead, which quickly went to an 8-1 Badgers lead. The Wisconsin run was facilitated by four straight Lauren Carlini aces before Maryland broke Wisconsin’s eight-point run. Wisconsin won the first set 25-12, capitalizing on eight errors to counter eight kills in the first set for Maryland. The Terps showed flashes of quality against the Badgers, but Wisconsin did more than enough to fend off the Terps despite a few attacking errors.
The back-and-forth second set always left Maryland searching for an equalizer until the Badgers pulled away with a 6-0 run in the second set. Wisconsin won the set 25-18, but overall, it was a much better showing all around for Maryland. Fewer errors and more blocks kept the Terps respectable against the No. 3 team in the country.
Maryland would only improve in the third set, grabbing its first lead since the 1-0 mark of the first set with a 6-5 lead in the third. Wisconsin pulled away for the sweep, 25-21, but Maryland stayed close.
Wisconsin was not error-free either. Ten errors in the second set was more than the Badgers’ eight total errors against No. 17 Ohio State Friday night. But for Maryland, two matches in a row with over 20 errors against top-ranked competition was too much to overcome.
Maryland’s freshman outside hitter Gia Milana had a better showing after a rough opening to her Big Ten career in Minnesota on Friday. While she still had six errors, she had eight digs to add to her team-leading nine kills.
Also for the Terps, sophomore libero Kelsey Wicinski impressed with 19 digs, and senior middle blocker Ashlyn MacGregor led both teams with six blocks.
On the other side of the net, Lauren Carlini showed her class for Wisconsin. Able to set, kill, and dig, the senior setter led the Badgers with 32 assists and added four aces.
Maryland is 0-2 to begin Big Ten play, and 8-6 overall. After facing Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Terps have a reprieve in the fact that they do not play No. 1 Nebraska in the regular season this year.
Next Wednesday, Maryland is on the road again to play Iowa. Iowa fell in back-to-back games, much like the Terps, Friday to No. 20 Michigan State and Saturday to No. 22 Michigan. The Hawkeyes did make a game of it against Michigan, pushing the match to four sets before falling.
Three things to know:
1. Maryland got better throughout the match. A rout of a first set, a close first six points of the second set, and a tight 25-21 defeat in the third set was much better from the Terps compared to Minnesota the night before.
2. Maryland’s blocking is its strongest asset. But it's nearly all to do with MacGregor. The senior’s match-high six blocks was much improved from her one solo block against Minnesota. Maryland kept close with Wisconsin on blocks, down eight to nine against the Badgers. Even if they weren’t all clean blocks, the Terps managed to make contact with a number of Wisconsin’s kill attempts.
3. Too many service errors limited Maryland’s runs. On multiple instances the Terps had a great block, or a kill, but followed it with an over-hit serve. The loss of a serve so quickly after winning it stopped Maryland from further runs.