Maryland and Howard last met in 2019, with Maryland squeaking out a tightly contested victory in five sets. This time, the Terps made light work of the Bisons, defeating them in three sets.
The Terps have only seen Quinnipiac once before, and as they did in 2011, Maryland wasted no time as they defeated the Bobcats in three sets.
Maryland continues its reign over its nonconference opponents, improving to an 8-0 record and taking care of Howard and Quinnipiac in six sets.
Howard (25-16, 25-17, 25-17)
Friday morning’s match against Howard was a lop-sided affair that saw the Terps win comfortably in all three sets.
The first set started off slow as each team traded blows, leading to a 9-8 Howard advantage. Then, a ferocious kill by middle blocker Ranielle Jones energized the Terps, as they exploded for an 8-1 run. Jones contributed three of the five kills in the run to give the Terps a 16-10 lead. Up 20-15, a 5-1 run propelled the Terps to a set one win that concluded with another Jones kill.
The second set was more of the same as the Terps held an 8-6 lead before a 4-0 run would put them up six. Howard would immediately respond with a run of their own to pull within three. After swapping 2-0 runs, the Terps would yet again rip off a massive run that would put them up nine and within three of a match two win. Three of the seven points are credited to service aces, two of which belong to defensive specialist/libero Kaylee Thomas. Despite this, the Bisons didn’t give up as they were able to rally for their second 4-1 run of the set. Maryland would officially end things immediately after with a 2-0 run.
Following the game script, the third set yet again started off close. With the set tied at nine, Maryland rattled off five unanswered points that included a barrage of kills and service aces. Similar to the second set, Howard was not ready to give up as they pulled off another 4-1 run to cut the lead to two. Then, outside hitter Paula Neciporuka single-handedly countered the Bison with three kills of her own. The run was the beginning of the end as Maryland would close out the match with a 10-4 run, with outside hitter Sam Csire contributing two of the last four Terrapin points. The Terps dominated this set as the team finished with 18 kills and a .452 hitting percentage.
Middle blockers Laila Ricks and Jones continued to dominate at the net, combining for 12 kills, eight blocks, and a .462 hitting percentage in this three-set match.
Quinnipiac (25-14, 25-18, 25-12)
Maryland didn’t slow down in the second game of the day as they took care of Quinnipiac in three sets.
Quinnipiac delivered the first blow with a Georgia Tselepi kill, but Csire immediately responded with a kill of her own, sparking a 5-1 run to give the Terps an early lead. Shortly after, a Ricks kill snowballed into a 9-3 run, giving Maryland an eight-point lead.
Quinnipiac was gaining momentum for a big run of their own until the Terps extinguished the Bobcats plans with a 7-2 run, highlighted by three Ricks kills. Now up by double-digits, the Terps were able to finish the job, winning the first set 25-14.
Maryland finished the set with seven total blocks, doubling Penn State’s per set average, which leads Division 1 in blocks per set.
The Bobcats yet again delivered the first blow, holding a 3-1 lead before the Terps responded once again, this time with a 6-1 run. Unlike the first set, the Bobcats were able to respond this time with a 3-0 run to tie the set at seven.
After going back and forth, it was the Terps who were finally able to muster up a 4-1 run, giving them a four-point lead. Quinnipiac continued to battle with the Terps, however, cutting the lead to two. Up 17-15, Maryland took over and controlled the rest of the set. The Terps closed the set on an 8-3 run that included four service aces.
Maryland yet again brought their A-game in the third set, jumping out to an early 18-3 lead. Neciporuka was the culprit of six Maryland points as setter Sydney Dowler continued to set her up beautifully.
No matter what the Bobcats tried to do, Maryland always had a response. This lead would prove to be too substantial for the Bobcats to come back from, even after a 5-1 run. Within six points of victory, the Terps secured the win with a 6-4 run, started with a kill and service ace by freshman middle blocker Ellie Watson.
Ricks was yet again mesmerizing, finishing the match with 10 kills, five blocks, and a .421 hitting percentage.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s offense continues to give opposing defenses nightmares. Maryland’s offense has been spectacular to start the season recording 13.3 kills per set, 12.1 assists per set, and 1.5 aces per set. During Friday’s slate of games the Terps were even better with 13.8 kills per set, 13.0 assists per set, and 2.2 aces per set over the two games.
2. Maryland continues to showcase their depth. There were 11 different Terps that touched the court on Friday, with each contributing in their own way. Dowler continues to set up her teammates, tallying 70 assists for the day. Csire and Neciporuka continue to showcase their spiking abilities, combining for 40 kills. Thomas was also able to contribute 2 service aces and 16 digs off the bench.
3. The Terps keep on rolling. After winning both games on Friday, the Terps will have the opportunity to sweep their third nonconference tournament of the season tomorrow at 2 p.m. against UMBC, a team that is 1-0 in the tournament so far.