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Maryland volleyball snaps losing streak with sweep of Ohio State

The Terps snapped a losing streak in emphatic fashion.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Riding a three-match losing streak with only four matches left in the season, Maryland volleyball needed a victory. In its way Sunday was Ohio State, a team that swept the Terps in early October.

This time, the Terps flipped the script and swept the Buckeyes in dramatic fashion (25-23, 25-19, 25-23).

“They would be the ones to tell you we didn’t play well last time at Ohio State,” Maryland head coach Adam Hughes said. “I think they did a good job regrouping after that, picked up some wins after but I knew that they knew they needed to play better.”

A sight that has not been seen too often during Maryland’s conference slate, the Terps played a clean match, only recording 10 attack errors and six service errors. The 10 attack errors are tied for its season-low in conference play.

Despite having six fewer attacks, Maryland managed one more kill than the Buckeyes, and slashed a .288 hitting line to Ohio State’s .197.

The Buckeyes started the match off strong with a 4-0 run, finished off by consecutive aces from senior defensive specialist Sarah Sue Morbitzer. The Terps battled back from there thanks to a pair of errors from the Buckeyes and kills from junior outside hitter Erin Morrissey and senior outside hitter Sam Csire.

Morrissey was the unexpected hero of Sunday’s contest, recording a career-high 12 kills to help lead the Terps to victory.

“I was [just] thinking in the moment about what balls would put the other team more at risk,” Morrissey said. “Just playing with what the setter gives me and supporting my teammates in what they’re doing.”

A second service error from Morbitzer gave Maryland an opportunity to come within one. Answering the call, senior libero Lilly Gunter was able to get off Maryland’s first service ace of the contest as it trailed 11-10.

Despite errors being a problem all season, Maryland played a clean match in that department. Two rare miscues on the day put the Buckeyes on a would-be 3-0 run, but a challenge resulted in another kill for Morrissey as the Terps were still in striking distance down two.

Coming out of Maryland’s first timeout of the day, sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Thorpe put the Buckeyes back up four after a kill and a solo block.

Responding in a similar fashion, Csire recorded her third kill of the set and a block. The real difference for the Terps in Sunday’s victory was the blocks. The Terps had just one solo block, but racked up 20 block assists.

That sequence started a 6-0 run for Maryland, to give them the edge late in the set. Csire eventually put the opener away, 25-23, with her fifth kill of the day. The set victory was Maryland’s first in two weeks.

The second set started off sloppy with four combined errors in the first five points. Both teams traded mistakes thereafter as the set became tied at 12.

But Maryland broke free with another 6-0 run, and it took that momentum all the way to a set victory, 25-19.

Up 2-0, the Terps got another boost when Anastasia Russ found her groove. The senior middle blocker recorded two early kills, finishing the set with four.

Despite Russ’ play, Ohio State jumped ahead late in the set following a timeout. Another ace from Morbitzer ended a 4-0 run for the Buckeyes and put them up, 21-17.

Maryland uncorked another late run, though, and took a 23-22 lead. It was helped by four Buckeye errors and Morrisey’s 12th kill of the contest.

The Terps were able to put the match on ice with Morrisey’s 11th kill and an ace from freshman Jonna Spohn.

Three things to know

1. A career day for Morrisey. Erin Morrisey’s 12 kills marked a new career high for the junior. She was three kills away from matching her total last year of 15.

2. A clean performance from the Terps. Maryland’s 10 attack errors were tied for a season-low in conference play.

3. Streak-snapping win. Maryland snapped both its three-match winless and set-less streak. The Terps had not won a set dating back to Oct. 28 in a 3-0 victory over Iowa.