With a 1-0 match advantage, Maryland led by a mere two-point margin in the second set against the Akron Zips. The Zips were looking to tie the match at one apiece, while the Terps strived for a commanding 2-0 lead.
Akron managed to go on a 3-1 run and was on the brink of tying the Terps at 18 when graduate student outside hitter Paula Neciporuka did what she does best. Neciporuka sent a ball flying in the Zips' direction that they were unable to control off the hit and Maryland was awarded an important point in the match.
Neciporuka’s timely kill started the Terps' second 7-1 run of the set and they would ride this run into an eventual 25-17 win in the second set, which pushed Maryland ahead by a margin that Akron couldn’t recover from.
Maryland was able to come away with another three-set victory (25-11, 25-17, 25-16), their fourth straight and the program’s first win in the Maryland Challenge. The Terps now improve to a perfect 10-0 record with two more nonconference games to come before their Big Ten slate.
Maryland’s win against Akron marks its 10th win of the season, double the amount they had last year. The Terps have two nonconference games left against Stony Brook and Columbia on Saturday.
The Terps won all nine sets at the Charm City Challenge and carried their dominance in the first set scoring the first three points, two of them being kills from middle blocker Rainelle Jones. Outside hitter Sam Csire was able to get in on the action early as well, contributing with a kill of her own.
After a Zips kill, Maryland was able to break loose with a flawless 5-0 run by the Terps that included two Neciporuka kills and a service ace from libero Kaylee Thomas. This run gave the Terps a 10-3 lead, already making this set an uphill climb for Akron.
The Zips responded with a kill, but Maryland made sure that this didn’t give Akron any momentum as the teams began to trade blows.
Up 13-7, the Terps were able to rip off another 5-0 that started with a Csire kill and ended with four Zips attacking errors, something you simply cannot afford when facing this Maryland squad.
Akron tried to muster up a late-set comeback, but the middle blocker duo of Jones and Laila Ricks was not having it, sending three balls directly back at the Zips.
Up 22-11, Maryland was able to seal the deal with a 3-0 run to keep their perfect set one record.
After a sloppy first set, the Zips came out hot in the second, taking a 4-1 lead. Jones was on fire early yet again, converting on two kills. Middle blocker Hannah Thompson was able to pile on two kills of her own to tie the game at six.
The Zips, however, were not willing to give Maryland the lead that easily, responding with a 3-0 run of their own.
Down 11-8, Maryland erupted for one of their signature mid-set runs to give the Terps their first lead of the game. A variety of the Terps were responsible for this run, with Jones, Ricks and Neciporuka all contributing with kills.
Akron did not simply accept the fate, however, as they began to counter the Terps every point. That lasted until a Neciporuka kill sparked another 7-1 Maryland run that took them all the way to the finish line.
The last two Terrapin points were blocks, assisted by who else but Jones who was simply unstoppable in this match.
The Zips came out strong yet again with a 3-0 run, but this momentum didn’t last for long as a thunderous Sam Csire kill energized a 6-0 Maryland run. Jones was able to stuff the Zips at the net twice in this run as nothing easy was getting past her.
Akron countered with a 4-1 run to tie the game at seven, refusing to let Maryland run away with this set. A pair of Csire kills gave the Terps the lead again as they were hungry for their fourth consecutive sweep.
Two consecutive 4-1 Maryland runs gave the Terps a 15-10 lead, pressuring the Zips to respond. This was easier said than done as Maryland had a response for every move the Zips made.
Up 20-16, Maryland was able to finish the third set and the match on a high note with a 5-0 run, made up of four kills and one service ace to close out the Zips.
Three things to know
1. Rainelle Jones continues to be extremely efficient. Jones has been one of, if not the most, efficient Terps. She has season averages of 2.46 kills per set, 1.85 blocks per set and a .331 hitting percentage. Tonight was no different as Jones finished with 2.33 kills per set, 3.67 blocks per set and a .429 hitting percentage.
2. This may have been the Terps’ most dominant match yet. Akron had no answer for Maryland as it seemed as though the Terps could do no wrong. Maryland finished the three-set match with a .376 hitting percentage, 25 blocks and 42 kills, while they held Akron to a .111 hitting percentage. The Terps also won the error battle by an overwhelming +16 margin.
3. Maryland is undefeated in nonconference play. The Terps are now one Saturday double-header away from a perfect 12-0 nonconference record. Maryland will take on the 5-7 Stony Brook Seawolves at 1 p.m. and the 2-5 Columbia Lions at 7 p.m. Maryland hasn’t lost a single set since its 3-2 win over Temple on Sept. 3.