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Maryland volleyball unable to find rhythm in three set loss to Michigan

The Terps have now lost four of their last five games.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Up 21-14 in the second set, Michigan found itself in prime position to take a commanding 2-0 match lead against Maryland volleyball. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Maryland fought all the way back, gaining a 26-25 advantage.

On the verge of blowing its seven-point lead, Wolverines’ senior outside hitter Paige Jones dished up a thunderous kill to tie the game at 26. This kill led to a Michigan service ace and then another impressive kill by Paige Jones to steal the set right out of Maryland’s hands.

After falling in the second set, the Terps couldn’t recover, and Maryland eventually lost its fifth game of the season, all coming within conference, in the three set set loss to Michigan (15-25, 26-28, 20-25). The Terps now fall to 14-5 on the season, while the Wolverines fall to 11-5.

The Terps are now 2-13 all-time against Michigan, all of their wins coming in the last five matches. Maryland will wrap up its two-game road trip tomorrow night against Michigan State.

The Terps got things started as outside hitter Sam Csire and setter Sydney Dowler connected for the first kill of the game. The teams traded 2-0 runs before middle blocker Rainelle Jones 125th kill of the season, tying the score at four.

Ranielle Jones’ kill would snowball into a 5-0 run from the Terps, including a pair of kills from outside hitter Paula Neciporkuka. With the deficit at four, Michigan swapped 2-0 runs with the Terps again, before sophomore outside hitter Jess Murzik helped the Wolverines string together a 3-0 run, cutting the lead to one.

After Dowler and middle blocker Hannah Thompson combined for a block, Murzik added another kill to her stat sheet as the Wolverines went on another 3-0 run, giving them the lead. Shortly after, Michigan absolutely exploded for a 8-0 run, tailing four kills on its way.

Dowler was finally able to stop the bleeding with a kill, but the Terps success was short-lived as Michigan closed things with a 5-1 run.

Maryland’s offensive struggles were prevalent in the first set, committing nine attack errors and hitting at a -.025 hitting percentage.

The second set saw Michigan strike first as setter Scottee Johnson set up outside hitter/middle blocker May Pertofsky for a kill. With the Terps leading 5-4, 6-foot-4 middle blocker Jacque Boney sparked the Wolverines’ first run of the set to go up 9-6.

Then, the trio of Csire, Rainelle Jones, and Neciporuka all contributed with a kill to tie the agem at 11. Michigan immediately responded with another massive mid-set run, taking a six-point lead.

Down 21-14, the Terps finally put together a run of their own, ripping off three straight and forcing a Michigan timeout. Mruzik came out of the timeout with a kill, but the Terps got right back to work after that, putting together another 3-0 run to diminish the lead to two.

With each team within five points of winning the set, it was a foot race to victory. After going down 24-21, Rainelle Jones got busy, recording two kills and one block in the Terps 5-1 run to take a 26-25 lead.

Maryland was unable to cap off the impressive comeback as Michigan’s late 3-0 run propelled them to the finish line, winning set two 28-26.

The third set started off very competitive yet again as the score was tied at four for the third time today. As they have done all match, Michigan yet again erupted for a big run to take a 13-6 advantage.

The Terps made up some ground with a 3-1 run, but Michigan was resistant to giving up their hard earned lead, erasing the run with back to back Paige Jones kills.

After a 3-0 run by Michigan, Maryland clapped back with an enthusiastic 6-0 run, slicing the lead to two. The Terps were unable to make up any ground as Michigan completed the sweep with a 25-20 third set win.

Three things to know

1. Paula Neciporuka , Rainelle Jones and Sydney Dowler continue to shine despite the loss. Neciporuka led the team with nine kills and a .290 hitting percentage. Rainelle Jones finished the day with seven kills, the second most on the team behind Neciporuka. She finished the game with a .333 hitting percentage. Dowler completed the day with three kills. When the Terps needed them the most, they came through with a formidable effort, but they were unable to carry Maryland to a win.

2. Kaylee Thomas is making the most out of expanded role. With freshman Milan Gomillion sidelined due to injury, Thomas has stepped into the role perfectly, recording back to back impressive outings. In her first two starts of the year, Thomas is averaging 5.33 digs per set and 1.67 assists per set as her leadership and experience has been extremely needed over this tough stretch.

3. Maryland’s momentum was stopped quickly. After losing four Big Ten games, the Terps swept Indiana in three sets back on Oct. 9. However, this loss for Maryland is certainly a let down for a team that seemed to be trending in the right direction as of late. The win against the Hoosiers was a step in the right direction, but the loss to Michigan is a blow to Maryland’s high hopes. The Terps will need to bounce back against Rutgers and Michigan State moving forward after this tough defeat.