Only up 14-13 in the third set, No. 9 Minnesota was facing a hungry and desperate Maryland volleyball squad that wanted to back up its incredible upset against then-No. 2 Wisconsin with a win to cap off the weekend. Unfortunately for the Terps, Minnesota’s outside hitter Stephanie Samedy had other plans.
After delivering an emphatic slam to the Terps side of the court, Minnesota rallied for a 5-0, now only six points away from a sweep. A single Paula Neciporuka kill was not enough to combat the Golden Gophers' momentum as they ran away with the set, ending the match and Maryland’s perfect record.
Maryland wasn’t able to remain undefeated, losing to Minnesota in three sets (13-25, 12-25, 16-25). After upsetting Wisconsin, the Terps dropped their first game of the season, falling to a 13-1 record on the season.
Maryland is now 0-16 all-time against Minnesota and will have one more opportunity to get a win this season on Nov. 27 at College Park, its last game of the season.
Similar to the Wisconsin match, the first set started extremely competitive with each team exchanging three consecutive points. From there, the Golden Gophers were able to take the early advantage thanks to a 4-1, including three blocks.
Despite multiple errors, Minnesota was able to apply offensive pressure to maintain the lead, up 12-8 now. Neciporuka and setter Sydney Dowler were able to connect on a kill, but this didn’t amount to anything as the Golden Gophers immediately rallied for a 3-0 to push the lead to six.
After cutting the lead to four, Minnesota erupted for a 7-1 run to put them within three points of a first-set victory.
In dire need of a response, middle blocker Hannah Thompson then came through with a thunderous kill. This, however, didn’t lead to much as the Golden Gophers finished off the set with a 3-0 run to win the first set.
The Terps finished set one with an abysmal -.167 hitting percentage and uncharacteristic zero blocks. If the Terps keep this up, they could be cut out for a very short day.
The Golden Gophers picked up right where they left off, gaining a 7-1 lead and making Maryland’s life a nightmare at the net. As soon as the Terps looked like they were primed for a comeback run, the Golden Gophers halted their efforts, forcing Maryland into multiple errors and taking an eight-point lead.
Then, Minnesota rattled off another run to go up 16-4, putting Maryland in a hole.
Now down 22-8, the Terps found some newfound life off of a Neciporuka kill and Rainelle Jones solo block. This success did not last long as two Maryland attacking errors helped the Golden Gophers close out the second set.
The Terps lost the blocking battle in this set 5-1, which is extremely unusual for a team that is second in the nation in blocks per set.
With little room for error, Maryland came out looking much better with three Neciporuka kills, jumping to a 5-4 lead. Each team continued to battle as outside hitters Sam Csire and Samedy found themselves in a duel, trading kills.
After each team put together 2-0 runs, Minnesota yet again exploded for a 5-0 to put a sweep within arms reach.
The Terps were unable to muster up any sort of response as Minnesota would close out the game on a 6-2 run, capped off with three straight kills.
Three things to know
1. Minnesota dominated Maryland at the net. Maryland has been one of the best and most consistent teams at the service line all season, but that wasn’t the case in this one. The Golden Gophers out blocked Maryland 14.5 to 4 and held the Terps to a -.096 hitting percentage, while they recorded a .302 hitting percentage.
2. Csire wasn’t as effective as usual. Csire has been a staple of this Maryland offense as her hitting ability was one full display Friday night against Wisconsin recording 17 kills. Today was a different story, however, as Csire finished the match with four kills, zero blocks, and a -.303 hitting percentage. Csire and the Terps will look to build upon this loss Wednesday night as they host No. 20 Penn State.
3. Maryland’s historic run officially reached its end. The Terps had quite the hot streak to kick off the 2021 season, rattling off 13 consecutive victories before finally dropping their first match of the season in straight sets. It’s safe to say that Maryland has already exceeded its preseason expectations, as the program was projected to finish near the basement of the Big Ten. The Terps have already added a major win to its resume by beating No. 2 Wisconsin a few nights ago, and now Maryland will have to bounce back with plenty of Big Ten teams coming up on the schedule in the near future.