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Maryland volleyball weekend recap: Illinois and Rutgers

Maryland lost to Illinois but defeated Rutgers to snap a five-game losing streak.

Chris Lyons/Maryland Terrapins

After tough losses to Nebraska and Michigan State last weekend, Maryland volleyball finally won its first Big Ten game of the season this weekend as it looks to gain some momentum heading into the rest of the year.

On Friday, the Terps had a rematch with Illinois in College Park after both teams played each other in Champaign-Urbana a few weeks ago. Having lost 3-1 the first time, it only took the Fighting Illini three sets to beat Maryland this time around, dominating, 3-0. Sunday’s game saw Maryland take a trip up to Piscataway, New Jersey to take on Rutgers. The Terps crushed the Scarlet Knights, 3-0, to break a five-game losing streak.

Maryland is now 10-8 on the season and 1-5 in conference games.

Match one: Illinois

The first set at the XFINITY Center Pavilion on Friday was a contested affair at first, with both teams exchanging points and the set knotted at ten at one point. However, Maryland mustered only five more points the whole rest of the set as the Fighting Illini went on runs as big as 5-0 to eventually take the set, 25-15. Senior middle blocker Kennedy Collins led the way for Illinois with four kills in the set.

But despite losing the set, graduate student middle blocker Rainelle Jones made history in the first frame by setting the record for career blocks in a Maryland uniform. It only took her two blocks in the first set to surpass Rachel Wagener, the previous record holder. Jones now stands alone after being the NCAA’s leading blocker the last two years.

While the first set was a blowout, both teams fought throughout the second set. With the set tied at nine, Maryland went on a 5-0 run which featured three attack errors from Illinois. A little while later, the Fighting Illini went on a 5-0 run of their own, and eventually the set was tied at 20. But redshirt freshman setter Brooke Mosher got three straight kills which helped Illinois win the set, 25-22.

Maryland fought for the whole third set, and got it within one: 24-23. Although, Mosher finished things off with a kill to win the third set, 25-23, and the game, 3-0. Junior middle blocker Raina Terry was the best and most efficient offensive player for Illinois with 18 kills on a .292 hitting percentage and a service ace. Junior outside hitter Sam Csire was the best player for the Terps, putting up an all around performance with nine kills, five block assists and seven digs.

Match two: Rutgers

At the start of the game, Maryland was in control of Rutgers. But after going up 21-15, Maryland let Rutgers come back to within three points to make it 23-20. A kill from freshman outside hitter Lailay Ivey and a service ace by sophomore setter Erin Engel finished off the set for the Terps, 25-20. Csire had a team high five kills in the first, while Ivey and redshirt junior Anastasia Russ both chipped in three kills of their own.

The second set wasn’t even close, as Maryland dominated with a hitting percentage of .480. After getting out to an early lead, the away team led by double digits for most of the set. In fact they finished off the frame with the biggest lead of the set, winning, 25-12. Ivey was the star of the show, contributing a team-high five kills in the second game.

Maryland went back and forth with Rutgers to start the third frame, and was tied at eleven points. However, the Scarlet Knights were silenced by a 9-0 run which was enough to eventually take the set, 25-16. Csire and Ivey were the top offensive performers, each contributing 12 kills, with Jones clutching up on defense with six block assists.

Next week, Maryland continues its run of games away from College Park. This Friday at 8 p.m. the Terps travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern. They then face one of their toughest tests of the season when they take on No. 5 Purdue on Sunday at 1 p.m.