Maryland volleyball continues to ride its hot start, only losing two sets in its two matches today as it defeated both LIU Brooklyn and Temple at the Cherry and White Challenge in Philadelphia.
The Terps came into the weekend with newfound confidence after a 3-0 start in their nonconference return, and it showed. They were locked in from the get-go, starting each match with dominant runs.
Maryland won its matches with massive runs, most notably an 11-3 run to win the second set against LIU and a 15-2 run to start the first set against Temple.
LIU Brooklyn (25-18, 25-21, 25-21)
The Terps and Sharks were extremely competitive in all three sets, each game coming within three late.
The Terps set the tone early, jumping to a 7-1 advantage. Maryland maintained a three-plus point lead before ripping off a 5-1 run, giving it an eight-point lead and forcing an LIU timeout. The Sharks made things interesting coming out of the timeout with a 6-1 run before Maryland would close the set with a 4-0 run.
In the second set, the tables turned as the early 9-3 lead belonged to LIU. After trading blows, the Terps cut the lead to two with a 4-0 run. Down three, the Terps exploded for a 5-0 run that would snowball into an 11-3 run to win the set and take a commanding 2-0 match lead.
Maryland started the third set hot with a 6-2 lead that included back-to-back service aces from sophomore setter Sydney Dowler. From that point on, the two teams went back and forth until the Terps broke it open with a 5-1 run, gaining a 21-16 lead. With their backs against the wall and the match on the line, the Sharks rallied for a 5-1 of their own to pull them back within one. The Terps, however, were able to squeak by with a 3-0 run, led by two extremely clutch kills by outside hitter Sam Csire.
The Terps absolutely dominated the Sharks at the net with a .263 hitting percentage, 47 kills and six blocks, compared to the Sharks .152 hitting percentage, 34 kills, and one block.
The outside hitter duo of Csire and Paula Neciporuka continued to torch opposing defenses, combining for 24 kills and posting .250 and .304 hitting percentages in the three sets.
Dowler continued to impress as well, recording 11 digs, four kills, and a whopping 35 assists, which was more than the Sharks' entire team.
Temple (25-6, 21-25, 26-28, 25-21, 17-15)
Head coach Adam Hughes is now 2-0 in his Maryland career versus Temple after the Terps took down the Owls in five sets.
The first set was extremely one-sided in the first set as the Terps played nearly flawless. The set started with an 8-1 run and ended in a 6-1 run as Maryland easily won 25-6. The 19-point margin of victory was the largest the Terps have had in an individual set this season. It was also the first time that Maryland held an opponent to single digits in one set.
The second set was a different story, however, as Temple was now warmed up and found its stride. The two teams were trading kills before the Owls ripped off a massive 9-2 run of their own, gaining an 18-11 lead. After exchanging nine consecutive points, the Terps had a late 3-0 run to cut the lead to three, but the Owls were able to hold onto a 25-21 second set win.
Maryland started out slow in the third set, falling to a 6-2 defect early. Shortly after, the Terps found their stride again, rattling off a 5-0 run to gain the lead. Down four, Temple made a 6-1 late-game run to take a 20-19 advantage. After going up 24-22, the Terps are unable to hold onto the third set as the Owls finish the set on a 6-2 run.
The fourth set was tightly contested throughout and started very stagnant as neither team was able to gain more than a two-point advantage until Maryland pulled away with a 4-0 run to go up by five. Down four, Temple rallies for another late-game run to tie the set at 20. The Terps were finally able to hold on to a close set as they finish the set on a 5-1 run, to force a fifth set.
The Terps got back to their first set form early in the fifth set starting 6-0. Despite this, Temple did not give up and kept fighting. The Owls erupted for a 9-2 run to give them a 12-11 lead, three points away from victory. Down 14-12, the Terps are able to muster up one more run to win the fifth set 17-15.
Middle blocker Rainelle Jones, Csire, and Neciporuka were on fire in this match with a combined 52 kills, 30 digs, and 8 blocks.
Dowler was yet again spectacular in this match finishing with a 59 assist 19 digs double-double
Three things to know
1. Paula Neciporuka is a fantastic addition. Neciporuka transferred to Maryland as a graduate student from VCU in hopes of providing depth and experience to this young roster, and she has done that and more. Neciporuka has amassed 52 kills and 41 digs in her first five matches as a Terp.
2. Maryland continues to dominate at the net. At times, especially during the first set against Temple, it seemed impossible for anyone to get it past Maryland’s front line. The Terps were a +7 in the block category on Friday.
3. Maryland will have a chance to start 6-0. After Friday’s pair of wins, the Terps are set up to start the season 6-0 if they can beat Iona Saturday afternoon. A 6-0 start would be the best since 2017, a promising sign for the rest of the season.