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Maryland volleyball defeats Michigan State in four sets

The Terps dropped the first set, but closed out the match by winning the final three.

Photo courtesy of Maryland athletics

Up 15-12 in a crucial third set, Maryland volleyball needed a spark as Michigan State was closing in on its lead. Outside hitter Sam Csire got hot and put the team on her back, helping the Terps avoid a 2-1 deficit in what could have potentially been the Terps’ second loss of the weekend.

Csire jumped high on a set from setter Sydney Dowler and perfectly fit the ball into an unrecoverable position. Csire wasn’t done there, however, converting on two more kills and two service aces soon after, pushing Maryland’s lead to eight.

Maryland never looked back after Csire’s run, splitting the weekend road trip after its three-set loss to Michigan, defeating Michigan State in four sets (18-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-18). The Terps are now 15-5 on the season, as Michigan State suffers its fifth straight loss, falling to 8-9.

This marks the third win of conference play this season and second win all-time against Michigan State for the Terps. Maryland will head back to College Park for its Wednesday night matchup against Rutgers.

Middle blocker Ranielle Jones and Laila Ricks started the game out strong for the Terps, combining on a block to make Maryland the first ones on the scoreboard. Shortly after, Michigan State rallied for a 4-0 run consisting of service aces and kills.

Maryland didn’t let this set get out of hand as it was Ricks and middle blocker Hannah Thompson who came up with the next block for the Terps to bring the deficit back to within one. Neither team was able to pull away from this point with Michigan State holding a 16-13 lead. Outside hitter Sarah Franklin put her skills on full display early, already racking up four kills.

After a lone Thompson kill, Michigan State expanded its two point lead by exploding for a 7-1 run, as the Spartans stood just two points away from a set one victory. Outside hitter Paula Neciporuka and Jones weren’t going to let the Spartans take the set without resistance, putting together back to back kills.

Michigan State was able to close it out with another Franklin kill, her fifth of the set. The Spartans dominated on the offensive end, posting 21 kills, 21 assists, and a .472 hitting percentage.

Four Michigan State attacking errors gave the Terps a fresh 4-0 start to the second set. The Spartans turned things around quickly, reeling the lead back to one with two kills and a service ace. A 2-0 Michigan State run erased the lead with the score tied at 5.

A few more Michigan State errors assisted Maryland in capturing a three-point lead. Then, a 3-0 run by the Spartans tied the game back up at 11. The Terps continued to slowly increase their lead point by point now up 18-15.

Franklin yet again sparked a Michigan State run with two precision kills, tying the set at 18. The Terps clapped back with a 5-0 run as the Spartans continued to make mistakes.

Franklin was not going to let her seven kill set slip away this easily, helping the Spartans bring the game within three, putting pressure on the Terps to close this one out. Outside hitter Sam Csire and Jones were not phased by the pressure, securing the set two win with two kills.

Maryland smothered the Spartans offense during this set, holding them to 14 kills on a .111 hitting percentage.

Michigan State’s error problem continued in the third set, accounting for three of the first four Maryland points. The third set began with two 3-0 runs by the Terps, interrupted by a 3-0 Michigan State run.

Similar to the second set, the third set saw a very back-and-forth battle, with Franklin being responsible for four of Michigan State’s first seven points. Down 9-6, the Spartans ripped off a 4-1 run to tie the game. Maryland immediately responded with a 5-0 run, consisting of kills, a block, and a service ace.

The Spartans then pieced together back to back points, but this momentum was short lived as Csire erupted for three kills and two service aces on the Terps way to a eight point lead.

Michigan State was unable to recover from this lead as two late service errors buried the Spartans.

Neither team jumped out to a substantial lead early in the fourth set, until three straight Michigan State attacking errors turned into an 11-2 Maryland run. The Terps now hold a seven point lead, already up 2-1 in the match.

Michigan State’s comeback pushes were stifled, constantly being interrupted by a Maryland kill. Jones yet again converted on a set-winning play to give Maryland the four-set victory.

Three things to know

1. Gomillion’s return to the court helped the Terps immensely. After being sidelined since Oct. 8, freshman standout Milan Gomillion returned to the hardwood as the starting libero for the Terps. Gomillion finished the night with 13 digs and five assists in the four-set win.

2. Franklin torched the Terps, despite the loss. Even though the outside hitter looked like the best player on the court, the Spartans were unable to pull this one out. Franklin has been phenomenal all year, averaging 3.88 kills per set, third in all of the Big Ten. Tonight, Franklin put on an absolute show, recording 20 kills, 13 digs, and hitting at a .327 percent clip.

3. The Spartans did not make it easy on themselves. Although Michigan State tallied more assists and kills than the Terps, they still came up empty. The primary cause of this was the constant mistakes the Spartans made. Maryland was plus 29 in the error battle, an unrecoverable difference. Michigan State will have one last crack at the Terps in one week, as each team has one match on Wednesday night before the rematch.