After Minnesota went on a 3-0 run in the third set, Maryland volleyball called its first timeout, looking to maintain its lead. That didn’t go as planned as Minnesota’s star outside hitter Stephanie Samedy delivered an emphatic kill, sparking an eventual 7-0 run for the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota was able to finish the set after a lone kill by the Terps, capturing the third set, 25-20, and breaking the 1-1 tie in the match.
Maryland was unable to stop Minnesota after dropping the third set, eventually losing to the Golden Gophers in four sets (25-23, 23-25, 20-25, 18-25) in the regular-season finale on Saturday night in College Park. The Terps end the season with a 19-13 record, while Minnesota finishes with a 19-9 record as they look to make a deep postseason run.
The Terps 19-13 record is not only their best mark under head coach Adam Hughes but their best in over 10 seasons. This Maryland volleyball program has much to look forward to in the future as its young core of outside hitter Sam Csire, setter Sydney Dowler, middle blocker Laila Ricks and libero Milan Gomillion continued to grow together on the court after a successful 2021 campaign.
Senior middle blocker Rainelle Jones fittingly started the match with a ferocious block as she has done all year. Csire followed the block up with a kill to give Maryland a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota outside hitters Jenna Wenaas and Samedy swiftly took the lead with three consecutive kills. Jones countered with back-to-back kills to give the Terps a 4-3 lead.
Just when it looked like the Terps were going to pull ahead, two Minnesota kills tied the score at nine to keep the set in a stalemate.
Then down 12-11, Maryland ripped off a 3-0 run that included an assertive combination block from Jones and Ricks. The Golden Gophers tied things back up at 15 after Maryland committed three errors.
With the score tied at 18, it was Minnesota that pieced together a crucial 3-0 run to take a late lead. Maryland quickly erased the lead with a 4-1 run as Csire collected her third and fourth kills.
Up 24-23, Jones and Ricks stuff Wenaas kills attempt at the net to give the Terps their first set win in two matches. Although Maryland had a .089 hitting percentage, its suffocating defense was enough to win set one.
Samedy and Dowler exchanged kills for the first two points in the second set with the score tied at one. Maryland then capitalized on multiple Minnesota errors to take a three-point lead. The second set was extremely similar to the first set as neither team would let each other mount a run that lasted more than three points at a time.
Down 13-11, Minnesota outside hitter Airi Miyabe exploded for three straight kills that led to a 7-0 run by the Golden Gophers.
Jones and Ricks finally stopped Minnesota’s run as they combined for another block. This block slowly snowballed into a 5-1 run, putting the Terps right back in it.
Samedy briefly interrupted the Terps run with a kill, but middle blocker Hannah Thompson tied the set at 20 with a block then kill. With the score tied at 22, the Golden Gopher took advantage, rallying for a 3-1 run to capture set two, tying the match at one apiece.
The Terps’ inefficient offense comes back to bite them in the second set as a .094 hitting percentage simply was not good enough.
A Jones and Dowler block got the Terps on the board first yet again in the third. Two more blocks by Jones gave Maryland a 4-1 lead early.
Minnesota seized control shortly after with a 4-0 run that included three Maryland errors. Maryland responded with a 3-0 run to regain the lead. The Terps expanded this lead with a 4-0 run, highlighted by two Csire kills.
After trading blows, Minnesota strung together a 3-0 run, cutting Maryland’s lead to one and forcing a timeout. Outside hitter Paula Neciporuka came out of the timeout with a powerful kill, but it wasn’t enough as the Golden Gophers continued their run with seven more points, taking a five-point lead.
Down 24-19, Maryland needed a miracle if it wanted to win the set. Middle blocker Cara Lewis delivered a strong kill, but it didn’t lead to much as Wenaas closed out the third set for the Golden Gophers with a kill to give it a decisive 2-1 match lead.
A 4-0 run gave Minnesota a 5-2 lead as it looked to finish the match in the fourth set. Another 4-0 run by the Golden Gopher earned them a five-point lead as the Terps were immediately faced with a tall task.
Up 12-8, Minnesota continued to build upon its lead with a 5-1 run. The Terps then trailed 23-13, and they were able to muster up a 5-1 run, but Minnesota officially ended things soon after to conclude the four-set victory.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s offensive struggles were the difference-maker. The Terps struggled immensely against a challenging Minnesota defense. Coming into tonight’s match, the Golden Gophers were second in the Big Ten in digs per set (16.95) and fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.172), and it showed in this one as Maryland finished the night with 46 kills and a .104 hitting percentage.
2. Maryland looked much better in the rematch. The first time these two teams met Maryland was 13-0, but looked completely lost when it faced off against the Golden Gophers, losing each set by nine or more points. This time around, the Terps looked grounded and confident as they were in a position to win each of the first three sets.
3. Minnesota made waste of Maryland’s senior night. Maryland honored its seniors tonight in the last home match of the season, but Minnesota played spoiler, sending the Terps home in four sets. Jones had a solid senior night herself as she recorded six kills and an impressive 12 blocks.