Coming off the team’s best weekend of the season at the Cavalier Classic tournament, Maryland volleyball failed to ride that momentum in its first conference games of the season.
The Terps started the weekend in Champaign on Friday to take on Illinois, where they lost in four sets, 3-1. On Sunday, they took on Indiana back in College Park, losing a close one, 3-2, in five sets. Maryland starts its Big Ten schedule with an 0-2 conference record and is 9-5 overall this season.
Match one: Illinois
Maryland started the first conference match of its season Friday with a dud of a first set. After going down 4-0, the Terps never seemed to recover, with the Fighting Illini going on a 12-3 run in the middle of the set to put it out of reach. The first five points from Illinois all came from kills by junior outside hitter Raina Terry, who would finish the set with a team-high six kills as Illinois took the first set, 25-17.
In the second set, the Terps managed to keep it close and limited Iliinois’ offense with five blocks. Toward the end of the set, both teams were in a tight contest with Maryland leading by one. But, a 7-1 run — featuring kills by junior outside hitter Sam Csire and junior right side Laila Ricks — helped push the Terps out on top, 25-18.
The third set saw Illinois make runs in the beginning and the end to easily come out on top. The Illini started the set on a 10-4 run and managed to finish things off with an 8-3 stretch to easily take the set, 25-15. Maryland’s offense just wasn’t at its best, with nine of Illinois’ 25 points in the set coming from attacking errors.
The last chance for the Terps to prevent a loss, the fourth set was a set of runs. By the time both teams had exchanged spells of scoring in the beginning, they found themselves tied at 19. But, Illinois had more to give, going on a 5-0 run after going down, 23-20, to win the set, 25-23, and the match, 3-1.
Terry was absolutely dominant on the offensive side, getting eight kills in the fourth set and 20 kills in the match. Maryland out-blocked the Fighting Illini, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Terps from losing their fourth game of the season.
Match two: Indiana
Sunday’s game started with a back-and-forth first set, where both teams tried desperately to get an early edge. But, a 4-0 run by the Hooisers ended the first set with Indiana on top, 25-21. Csire had three kills to lead the Terps, but Indiana junior middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede put up four kills of her own to lead her team to an early one-set lead.
The second set was nowhere near close, as Maryland didn’t have a lead in the set after the team was up 5-4. Indiana dominated the rest of the way behind freshman outside hitter Candela Alonso-Corcelles and her six kills to take the set, 25-16.
With their backs against the wall, the Terps decided it was time to rally. The third set was another back-and forth-affair that ultimately saw the home team down, 24-23, about to lose the match. But a service error, ball handling error, and then an attacking error got Maryland a 26-24 set win, keeping it alive.
The fourth set was close, but Indiana ran out of steam toward the end of the set. Graduate pin hitter Gem Grishaw put up four kills in the set as Maryland went on a 5-2 run to win the fourth set, 25-19, and force a tie-breaking fifth set.
Maryland started out hot in the fifth, going up 4-1. But, the Hoosiers fought back and made it another competitive set at the XFINITY Center Pavilion. Eventually, the game was tied at 15 points apiece, with one team needing to win by two to win the game. It was Indiana that managed to snatch the next two points, with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Mady Saris and a Maryland attack error giving the Hoosiers a 17-15 set win to clinch the match.
After a tough pair of matches, the Terps look to have an even tougher schedule next weekend. Both games will be in College Park, as Maryland will play Michigan State on Friday at 6:30 p.m., and No. 3 Nebraska on Sunday at 1 p.m.