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Maryland volleyball recap: No. 1 Nebraska and Iowa

The Terps split their two Big Ten road matches.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

After losing two straight games at the XFINITY Center Pavilion last weekend, Maryland volleyball went back out on the road hoping to find some success the team has had on the road in recent competitions. While their away winning streak was snapped, the Terps definitely had some positives in Big Ten play.

Maryland started its week taking on Iowa in Iowa City on Thursday. Despite flopping in the third set, the Terps were able to control the tempo the whole game to beat the Hawkeyes, 3-1. On Saturday, Maryland faced off against No. 1 Nebraska in Lincoln, where the away team was promptly swept by the top-ranked team in the nation.

Still having won four of its last six games on the road, Maryland currently has a 13-11 record — 4-8 in the Big Ten.

Match one: Iowa

With both teams trading blows within the first ten points of the first set, Maryland took ahold of the lead after that point. The Terps went on a 9-2 run in the middle of the set on the back of a few kills from redshirt junior middle blocker Anastasia Russ and four attack errors from the Hawkeyes to go up 19-11. They didn’t look back from that point and ended up winning the first set, 25-18. Iowa only hit 0.184% in the period while Russ had four kills to help Maryland get out to an early lead.

The second set featured a lot of back and forth action early on before Iowa turned a slim advantage into a giant one with a 5-0 run in the middle of the set to take a 19-13 lead. The Hawkeyes dominated the rest of the set with a 6-3 run to win it, 25-16, and even the match at one set a piece. Iowa sophomore outside hitter Michelle Urquhart and sophomore outside hitter Annie Vanderweide combined for nine kills in the set to end Maryland’s record of ten straight sets won on the road.

Much like the first set, the third set saw Maryland head coach Adam Hughes’ team have a lead for most of the time. Iowa couldn’t break through against the Terps, who went on a few runs that gave them a 25-18 set win and 2-1 lead in the match. The middle blocker duo of Russ and graduate middle blocker Rainelle Jones chipped in three kills each as the Hawkeyes committed ten errors to put them down a set.

The Hawkeyes didn’t back down after the third set and came out swinging early in the fourth with a 6-0 run to go up 12-5 at the start. But rather than accept a fifth set, Maryland clawed back with a 7-1 run to climb within one point of Iowa at 15-14. Both teams found themselves knotted at 20 each, and Maryland went on a 5-3 run which featured a few kills from sophomore outside hitter Laila Ivey to take the set, 25-23, and the match, 3-1.

Maryland had double-digit kills from an interesting duo, with Russ putting up 10 kills, seven block assists and a solo block and Ivey putting up 10 kills as well. Sophomore defensive specialist Milan Gomillion had an impressive defensive performance with 18 digs in Iowa City. Despite the win, Iowa had more kills than the Terps.

Match two: No. 1 Nebraska

Nebraska started things off on Saturday with dominance. Even though Maryland was able to pull within three at the beginning of the first set, the away team wouldn’t get closer than that. After going up 17-10, the Cornhuskers finished the set on a 8-6 run to take the first, 25-16. It was a dominant team set for Nebraska, limiting Maryland to a hitting percentage of just 0.05 and committing five fewer errors than the Terps.

The second set was an even more dominant showing by the Cornhuskers, who went on an 8-0 run after being up 11-5 to take a 19-5 lead. Maryland only recorded four more points in the whole set as Nebraska limited Maryland to single digits, winning, 25-9. Freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick led the way for the Cornhuskers with four kills in the second, while they limited the Terps to an 0.083 hitting percentage to take a two-set lead.

Despite going down 10-3 early on in the third set, Maryland wasn’t willing to go down without a fight and managed to get within one point of Nebraska at 18-17. But, a clutch 7-2 run by the home team secured the sweep for Nebraska, winning the third set, 25-19. Sophomore outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein had seven kills and eight block assists, while senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord put up nine block assists and five kills in the victory.

Next week, Maryland will have two rematches just five days apart. The Terps will travel to No. 11 Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for the second time in five games. On Sunday, they will play Iowa again at 1 p.m. in College Park.