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Maryland volleyball falls to No. 13 Penn State in three sets

The Terps kept it close early, but faltered as the match went along en route to the loss.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Despite being down 0-2 in the match, Maryland volleyball seemed to have all of the momentum in the midst of a 4-0 run that would bring No. 13 Penn State’s once commanding six-point lead to within two.

In desperate need of a response, Nittany Lions’ middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord successfully connected on a kill to halt the Terps’ momentum. The kill from Hord gave the Nittany Lions the energy boost they needed to secure the win in the third set. Maryland couldn’t hold off Penn State’s 4-1 run soon after which eventually closed out the match.

Maryland has now lost its sixth match of the season, officially snapping its three-game winning streak, in the three-set loss to Penn State (23-25, 10-25, 20-25). The Terps now fall to 17-6 on the year, while the Nittany Lions improve to 15-6.

The Terps have yet to defeat Penn State since 1983 as their all-time record now stands at 6-28. Maryland will have all of Saturday to rest up before taking on Rutgers at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Outside hitter Sam Csire was responsible for the first two points of the match with one kill and one block. After another block by Csire and middle blocker Rainelle Jones, outside hitter Jonni Parker got the Nittany Lions on the board with a kill.

The beginning of the set was a block party as four of the first seven total points were blocked.

After a ferocious slam by Penn State middle blocker Allie Holland, outside hitter Paula Neciporuka got in on the action with back-to-back kills, putting her impressive vertical on full display.

Down five, Penn State continued its pressure, attempting to cut the deficit completely, but Csire helped the Terps maintain the lead with three kills. Then, middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord sparked a 4-0 run for the Nittany Lions, tying the first set at 12.

Csire and Jones then combined for their fourth block of the set, but Penn State continued its run to obtain its first lead of the opening set. Coming out of a Maryland timeout, another Csire kill tied the set at 15.

Penn State then went on a 4-1 run to gain its biggest lead of the set, going up 19-16. Outside hitter Addanna Rollins pushed Penn State’s lead to four with two consecutive kills, but Csire continued her first set dominance with her seventh kill and fifth block to divide the lead in half.

Down 24-20, Maryland couldn’t afford to make a mistake if it wanted to win the set. The Terps put together a 3-0 run, but another kill from Hord ended Maryland’s comeback hopes as the Nittany Lions took a 1-0 lead in the match.

Csire had possibly her best set of the season with seven kills, five blocks, and a .263 hitting percentage.

Parker got things started for the Nittany Lions in the second set with her sixth kill of the match.

After falling to a 10-3 deficit, the Terps were unable to form any sort of run as they quickly found themselves 16-5. Csire and Neciporuka were able to string together some kills, but it didn’t make much of an impact as Penn State went on a 4-0 run immediately after, then leading by 13.

The Nittany Lions had no trouble closing out the second set, finishing it off on a 3-0 run, winning 25-10 to take a commanding 2-0 match lead that Maryland wasn’t eventually able to work its way back from.

Penn State was nearly flawless in the second, committing zero attacking errors and hitting at a 50% clip.

Maryland started the third set much better, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. The Nittany Lions regained their early one-point lead with a 3-0 run as defensive specialist Jenna Hampton contributed with two service aces.

With the set tied at seven, Penn State then ripped off a 3-0 run to take its biggest lead of the third set. The set quickly became a stalemate as neither team was able to break loose for a run of more than two points.

Up 18-15, the Nittany Lions expanded their lead to six, making it only four points away from a sweep. Similar to the first set, Maryland had another late run in it, exploding for a 4-0 run to bring it within two points. However, Penn State quickly regained control with a 3-0 run.

Jones converted on one more kill before outside hitter Anjelina Starck completed the sweep for Penn State with a set-winning kill.

Three things to know

1. Maryland’s offensive struggles are the difference-maker. Despite having more blocks than Penn State and putting together a solid performance on the defensive end, Maryland was unable to counter the Nittany Lions offensive attack with one of its own. The Terps recorded 17 fewer kills, two more attacking errors, and a .173 worse hitting percentage. Maryland’s struggles on offense have been a main catalyst in its losses this year and it will be interesting to see how the Terps approach this issue moving forwards.

2. Erika Pritchard was sidelined against the Terps yet again. Former Maryland star outside hitter will not have the opportunity to face off against her old team as she was unable to play in both matches this season. The highly anticipated matchup will never see the light of day unless Maryland and Penn State meet in the NCAA Tournament.

3. Maryland’s winning streak comes to an end. The Terps were on a roll recently winning their last three, and only losing two sets in the process. This three-set loss to Penn State ends the Terps run as they look to start a new streak this Sunday against Rutgers.