Maryland volleyball made the most of its Saturday doubleheader going 2-0 against Central Connecticut State and Hofstra.
Maryland came into the weekend having a worse 2020-21 record than both Central Connecticut State and Hofstra, but Saturday embodied the significance of a fresh start and new season.
Prior to Saturday’s matchup, the Terps defeated Virginia in their season-opener and the domination continued on Saturday.
Central Connecticut State (0-3) 26-24, 25-15, 25-16
Maryland dominated the Blue Devils in all facets of the game, resulting in a 3-0 victory.
The first set was closely contested throughout with a total of nine lead changes. Then, the Blue Devils rattled off a 5-1 run to put them on the brink of victory with a 24-22 lead. With their backs against the wall, the Terps exploded for a 4-0 run to steal the first set.
Now that Maryland was warmed up and on a roll, there was nothing the Blue Devils could do to stop them. Early in the second set, the Terps took an 8-2 lead, putting the Blue Devils in a tough position. After consecutive 3-0 runs by both teams, the Terps took a 16-9 set lead, keeping the Blue Devils outside of arms reach, winning the set 25-15.
The third set was a mixture of the first two, with the same result. After trading blows and a 3-0 Blue Devils run extinguished by a kill from outside hitter Sam Csire, the Terps once again found their stride, opening things up with a 6-0 run and winning the set 25-16.
The Terps had a number of mind-boggling statistics, including 42 kills, 38 assists, and .287 hitting percentage compared to the Blue Devils .060.
Csire and outside hitter Paula Neciporuka lead the team with nine kills, while middle blockers Cara Lewis and Rainelle Jones contributed with eight and six, respectively. Csire and graduate student defensive specialist/libero both had six digs, half of freshman defensive specialist/libero Milan Gomillion. Sophomore setter Sydney Dowler was incredibly important, pouring in 37 of the Terps' 38 assists.
Hofstra (3-0) 25-18, 25-15, 25-19
Maryland continued its reign of terror against the Pride Saturday night with a 3-0 victory.
The Terps and Pride were neck-and-neck in the first set until Maryland went on a 4-0 run to secure a five-point lead, and never let go. Freshman setter Erin Engle had a set-winning service ace with her first collegiate serve.
Maryland came out firing on all cylinders in the second set, rattling off an emphatic 8-0 run and never giving the Pride a chance for a comeback, winning the set 25-15.
The third was a closely contested battle leaving fans on the edge of their seats. The Terps started out hot with an early 4-0 run, similar to the previous set, but were stopped in their tracks by a 5-1 run by the pride to tie things up. Neither team was able to rip off a big run until the Terps exploded for a 7-1 run to win them the set and the match.
Csire and Jones each came up big on the offensive end with 15 and eight kills, respectively. Libero Milan Gomillion looked like a seasoned vet for the third match in a row with a match leading 14 digs and Dowler continued to set up her teammates, contributing 30 of the 33 Terrapin assists.
Maryland completed the tournament sweep and only lost one game in the process.
Three things to know
1. Sam Csire is the real deal. The looming question surrounding Maryland all off-season was, who will carry the Terps offense now that star outside hitter Erika Pritchard is gone? Csire is the answer. In Maryland’s two games on Saturday, Csire had a combined 24 kills, which easily led the team. She performed brilliantly in the second game against Hofstra when she managed a team-high 15 kills and a .464 hit percentage.
2. The Terps outworked both of their opponents on defense. In the wins over Central Connecticut State and Hofstra, Maryland had more digs on the defensive end. The Terps had a combined 74 digs compared to just 64 for their opponents. Freshman Milan Gomillion has been a big part of Maryland’s revamped defense, collecting a total of 26 digs on the day. She’s been a big piece on this Maryland team already, even though it’s just her first season in a Terrapin uniform.
3. Maryland volleyball is off to a very hot start this season. After winning just five of 20 games last season during a pandemic, Maryland has won its opening three matches of the season. Even more impressive, the Terps have dropped just one set over the course of their three victories. The volleyball program in College Park is clearly re-energized after a down year. Maryland was originally projected to be tied for last in the Big Ten, but its stock is certainly rising for now.