Getting a win on the road against top 10 teams in consecutive days is a tough task for any team. But when that team is relying on those wins to keep its season alive, it comes with a lot of pressure. This is the pressure that Maryland volleyball was under this weekend, and ultimately the Terps weren’t able to overcome it.
The team made its first stop of the weekend Friday in Minneapolis to take on No. 9 Minnesota. Maryland didn’t have much of a chance for all of the game and lost in straight sets. Just over 24 hours later, the Terps were already in Madison to take on the No. 3 Badgers in the Wisconsin Field House. They kept it close in the beginning but lost their second game in a row in straight sets.
Having finished 16-16 last season, Maryland now finds itself 14-14 and on a four-game road losing streak. The team is now 11th in the Big Ten standings with a 5-11 conference record and a 7-5 record away from the XFINITY Center Pavilion.
Match one: No. 9 Minnesota
The Terps started the game by letting the Golden Gophers pop off some crucial unanswered runs en route to a 10-3 lead. From that point on, Maryland had absolutely no answer for Minnesota and would lose the set, 25-12. Maryland got outkilled 16-8 and had a hitting percentage of .02 despite having more attempts than Minnesota. Junior outside hitter Jenna Wenaas led the Gophers with a team-high seven kills in the first set alone as the home team took a 1-0 lead.
The next two sets would follow a very similar pattern to the first set: keep things sort of interesting within the first 10 points and then not be able to overcome a lead for the rest of the set. At the end of the second set, Minnesota went on a massive 9-0 run to take a huge lead, and the Gophers would comfortably lead the next set the whole way. Maryland’s hitting percentage numbers weren’t great, hitting 0% in the second set and .118 in the third; the team lost both sets — 25-13 and 25-16, respectively.
It was a tough loss for the Terps, who actually got outblocked by Minnesota, which is shocking because Maryland has averaged the most blocks per set and allowed the fewest blocks per set in the Big Ten. Maryland didn’t have anyone who performed especially well, despite sophomore defensive specialist Milan Gomillion recording 19 digs, her most in a game since early September. Minnesota redshirt sophomore outside hitter Taylor Landfair led the way for her squad with 11.5 points and 11 kills to help her team get to 16-7 on the year.
Match two: No. 3 Wisconsin
The first set of the game was thrilling to say the least. The Terps fought back to tie the set at 17 despite giving up a 4-0 run early, which had them down for most of the set. Both teams had short back-and-forth runs after that, and just like that the set was tied at 22. But the Badgers reeled off a 3-0 run that featured two of Maryland’s six errors in the set, giving them a 25-22 set win. Despite having more kills and a higher hitting percentage than their opponent in the first set, the Terps found themselves down a set to start.
In the second set, Wisconsin found life by exposing cracks within the Maryland defense, going on a 6-0 run early and a 5-0 run to finish the set on top. Sophomore outside hitter Julia Orzol went on a tear, going for six kills to help lead Wisconsin to a 25-15 win. The Badgers totaled 19 kills with an unreal .545 hitting percentage in the second to snag a two-set advantage early on.
Maryland came out strong early in the third set with a 4-0 run that gave it a 10-9 lead. However, Wisconsin immediately responded with a 7-0 run of its own to take a 16-10 lead, and the home team never looked back. The Badgers won the set, 25-18, to complete the three-set sweep of the Terps. Three players had double-digit kills for Wisconsin with Orzol, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Sarah Franklin and fifth-year middle blocker Danielle Hart recording 10 kills each. Maryland junior outside hitter Sam Csire had 12 kills, while redshirt junior middle blocker Anastasia Russ had seven kills and five blocks.
Next weekend, Maryland will play two of the team’s final three games at home. On Friday, head coach Adam Hughes’ squad will face off against its final ranked opponent of the season, No. 6 Ohio State, at 7 p.m. Then on Saturday, Maryland’s senior day will see the team go up against Michigan at 8 p.m.