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Maryland volleyball weekend recap: A split keeps the Terps above .500

The Terps faced Penn State and Iowa over the past week.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

When this season’s schedule came out for Maryland volleyball, a lot of quick rematches against conference opponents were looked at as times for the team to adapt and gameplan better for opponents. This past week, the Terps played two opponents that they had played fewer than two weeks before, and both of these games finished with the exact same scores as the first time around.

Maryland started the week off with its first game of the season on a Wednesday, traveling to University Park midweek to take on No. 15 Penn State. The Nittany Lions were able to finish off multiple close sets, and despite the Terps taking the third, Penn State came out on top 3-1. Then in a return to the XFINITY Center Pavilion on Sunday, Maryland took on Iowa and won the fourth set in overtime to win the team’s first conference home game of the season, 3-1.

With just six games left to go this season, the Terps find themselves with a 14-12 record and a 5-9 record in Big Ten play.

Match one: No. 15 Penn State

The Terps were behind for practically the whole first set in University Park before a 4-0 run featuring a few kills from sophomore outside hitter Laila Ivey put them up, 19-18. But the Nittany Lions clutched up and went on a 7-2 run to win the set, 25-21, and go up a set early. Graduate middle blocker Katie Clark led the way with four kills as Penn State was assertive to start.

The second set saw the Terps take one lead the whole set at 6-5. The rest of the set saw Penn State dominate, and even though Maryland cut the lead to one at 20-19, the Nittany Lions put a 5-1 run to close the set, 25-20. The Terps were out-killed by five, and senior outside hitter Zoe Weatherington put up four kills in the second set for the home team as Penn State went out to a two-set lead.

Down on their last legs, the Terps battled the Nittany Lions with resiliency to start off the third set, staying within two points early on. A few kills from sophomore middle blocker Ellie Watson and three from Ivey in the middle of the set took Maryland out to a 20-16 advantage. The team would maintain this four-point lead the rest of the way and win the third set, 25-21, to pull a set back from Penn State.

The fourth set was a lot similar to those early on, as the away team stayed neck and neck with the home team. The teams were tied at 18 toward the end of the set, but a 7-3 run crushed Maryland’s hopes at a comeback and secured a 3-1 win for the No. 15 Nittany Lions at home. Four Penn State players recorded double-digit kills, with junior middle blocker Allie Holland leading the way with 14 kills and six block assists. Maryland junior outside hitter Sam Csire led the way for her squad with 15 kills in the team’s ninth conference loss of the season.

Match two: Iowa

The first set back in the Pavilion in over two weeks was resemblant of the Terps’ home form during conference play, going back and forth with the Hawkeyes early. But a 3-0 run that included a few Maryland attack errors gave Iowa a 20-15 lead late. Despite making a push late, Iowa took the first set, 25-21. Iowa sophomore outside hitter Michelle Urquhart led the way with five kills in the first to put the Hawkeyes on top to start the game.

Head coach Adam Hughes’ team was staring an early deficit in the face once again, and decided to come out in the second set with a rapid response. An early 4-0 run that included three kills from Ivey put Maryland up, 13-6. For a minute, the Terps looked to be in control of the set, but a 9-1 run by Iowa flipped the set on its head, putting the Hawkeyes up by two. After the set was tied at 20, Maryland finished things off with five straight kills from Dowler, Ivey and Russ to win the second, 25-23, and tie the game at one set apiece. Ivey went off in the second with a team-high eight kills.

The same energy that Maryland started off the second set with was on display all throughout the third set. Watson had two service aces in the first three points, and before Iowa could blink the Terps had a 21-11 advantage over the Hawkeyes. Maryland would eventually take the set, 25-14. Iowa hit 0% in the third set compared to a .37 hitting percentage by the Terps, and Csire and Ivey both had three kills as Maryland went up 2-1 at home.

The fourth set saw multiple runs by both sides before they found themselves knotted at 21 late in the set. The Hawkeyes took a 24-22 lead and looked like they would force a fifth set, but Maryland went on a defiant 3-0 run to extend the set before the Terps won two straight points — including an Ivey kill — to take the set, 27-25, and the game, 4-1. Ivey was the star of the show, putting up a career-high 18 kills on the day, while Csire had 13 kills. Redshirt junior middle blocker Anastasia Russ also had 10 kills and two solo blocks in the team’s first home win since August.

Next week on the schedule, Maryland will play two tough away games on back-to-back days. First, the team will travel to Minneapolis for a matchup against No. 9 Minnesota on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Terps will head to Madison to go up against the No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers at 8 p.m.