Maryland volleyball had yet to face No. 14 Penn State this season prior to Wednesday night, so a new opponent, especially a ranked one, posed an unknown threat. The Terps looked to end their season on a strong note with two games remaining, but were dominated by Penn State instead, falling in three sets (20-25, 9-25, 12-25).
Penn State’s offense was a force to be reckoned with from the get-go. Penn State finished the quick match with a .365 hitting percentage, and its offense peaked in the second set with a .600 hitting percentage and 13 kills.
Maryland also struggled defensively, failing yo record a single solo block while tallying just six block assists. The Terps also recorded 14 fewer digs than the Nittany Lions.
Penn State started off strong with a kill and a solo block from Zoe Weatherington to take an early 3-1 lead. Not backing down, Erin Morrissey, who has been a spark for the Terps lately, recorded two kills of her own as the Terps evened the set at 8-8.
The pivotal moment of the first set came from a 5-0 Penn State run to go up 15-10. Camryn Hannah recorded a kill and another block assist while Maddy Bilinovic’s service ace forced a Maryland timeout.
The Terps managed to mount a comeback attempt late. Outscoring the Nittany Lions 6-2 during the span, Maryland capitalized on a number of Penn State errors while its offense churned to life. Erin Morrissey and Samantha Schnitta recorded three kills during the run.
Penn State’s lead was too much for the Terps as three straight Penn State points set up set point before Weatherington’s sixth kill sealed the victory, 25-20.
Looking to turn the tide, Maryland’s offense was hard-pressed to find success in the second set. But Hannah continued her excellence with three of Penn State’s four points to even the score at four.
Then, Penn State launched a 6-0 run with two more aces from Hannah and two kills from Jess Mruzik to take a 10-4 lead.
Maryland’s offense was stagnant throughout the entire set as the Terps recorded a .000 hitting percentage.
Two service aces from Mruzik and a pair of kills from Hannah iced the second set for Penn State, 25-9.
The third set could not have started any better for Penn State, who already displayed pure dominance for the majority of the match. It jumped out to a fast 5-0 lead to force an early timeout from the Terps.
The Nittany Lions continued to steamroll with a 6-0 burst. Bilinovic recorded two more aces during the run and Hannah recorded three kills en route to her match-leading 15 kills. Penn State held a dominant 11-1 lead.
With a 4-0 run putting Penn State up 18-5, the Nittany Lions emptied their bench. Maryland put up seven more points to make the final score a little more respectable, but Penn State took the set, 25-12, and the sweep.
Three things to know
1. Struggles in conference play. With the Terps’ loss to Penn State, Maryland now has a 6-13 conference record. With one more game remaining, Maryland can finish no better than 7-13, the same record as the last two seasons.
2. Aces. Maryland recorded just one service ace to Penn State’s 14. Maryland’s -13 ace differential is the worst it has suffered in a match all season.
3. The winless streak continues. Head coach Adam Hughes is now 0-8 against Penn State, as Maryland’s challenges against the Nittany Lions continue.