In its last round of nonconference matches, Maryland volleyball boasted maybe its best weekend of the season, winning its fourth, fifth and six matches in a row, respectively, at the FGCU Classic.
Maryland (10-2) started its weekend with a sweep against winless Le Moyne, before taking down both FAU and Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.
Match one: Le Moyne
Laila Ricks set the tone early with back-to-back kills, part of an immediate 8-2 run. Out of an early Le Moyne timeout, the Terps extended that lead 14-5, forcing the Dolphins to call yet another timeout. Ricks recorded two more kills and Erin Engel served up four aces as the Terps took set one with ease, 25-12. Ricks, Erin Morrissey and Ellie Watson each had four kills in the set; Morrisey finished with nine in the match.
The second set started off a little more competitive, Samantha Schnitta, who missed last weekend’s tournament with an illness, sparked a huge run for the Terps. Anastasia Russ added three kills as the Terps brought the lead up to 11 points.
Defensively, the Terps were just as good, totaling 11 blocks in the match.
The third set began with another back-and-forth effort as the Terps and Dolphins were tied up at four. From then on, though, it was all Maryland. The Terps went on a 16-0 run to go up 20-4. The run saw six Le Moyne errors and three service aces with just three kills.
The Terps never looked back as they easily finished the sweep with a 25-10 set victory.
Three things to know
1. Bring out the brooms. The win over Le Moyne was Maryland’s third sweep in as many matches and its fifth of the season.
2. Spreading the wealth. The Terps had six different players with four or more kills against the Dolphins. Once known as a defense-first team, look for the Terps to continue to spread the ball around.
3. Unusual contributors. Maryland had a number of non-starters receive playing time. Zoe Huang and Alex McGillivray are names to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
Match two: FAU
After the Owls struck first in the opening set, the Terps stayed composed. Russ had three kills midway through the set, and after it was tied at 10, three straight FAU errors — capped off by a block from Russ — sent Maryland on a brief run to give it an 18-16 lead. Back-to-back kills from Sam Csire brought the Terps’ lead to 24-20, and after an Owls kill and a Laila Ivey error brought FAU within two, Maryland’s Eva Rohrbach delivered the deciding kill to take the set, 25-22.
Two kills from Ricks opened the second set, as Maryland jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Four kills from Sydney Dowler expanded Maryland’s lead to five midway through the set, and back-to-back kills from Ivey gave Maryland an 18-10 advantage. A late run from FAU threatened Maryland’s lead, but the Terps held on by eight to take a two-set advantage.
The Owls jumped out to a 4-1 lead to start the third set, but a few errors evened it early at five. With the score later knotted at 10, back-to-back kills from Csire and Ellie Watson gave the Terps their biggest lead of the set at 14-11. FAU responded, though, with consecutive runs to gave it a 21-18 lead, but kills from Ricks and Dowler brought Maryland back within one, 22-21. A Watson kill tied the set at 22, and a trio of block assists helped secure another Maryland sweep.
Three things to know
1. Sweeps kept coming. Maryland’s win over FAU gave it back-to-back sweeps on the same weekend for the second straight week and increased its streak of consecutive sweeps to four matches.
2. Hitting percentage. Hitting .308 in the contest, this was the first time since head coach Adam Hughes took over that Maryland hit .300 or better in three straight matches.
3. Ivey’s kills. Ivey’s 11 kills marked the third time she posted 10 or more kills in a match this season.
Match three: Florida Gulf Coast
Once again, Maryland’s first set — this time against Florida Gulf Coast — was drawn out to a 10-10 tie early. But another instance of back-to-back kills from Ricks propelled Maryland to a 20-16 lead, and in another tight contest, back-to-back kills from Laila Ivey secured Maryland the first set, 25-20.
A Maryland error and an FGCU service ace saw the Eagles jump out to a 5-2 lead early in the second set, but a 4-0 run saw the Terps take back the lead at 6-5. A trio of block assists and a kill from Russ gave Maryland a 15-13 lead, followed by a 6-0 Terps run — during which Ricks, Csire and Rohrbach all recorded kills — to expand their lead to 21-13. Exchanging blows from that point on, Maryland ultimately prevailed, 25-16.
Looking to avoid a sweep, FGCU got out of the blocks fast in the third set, putting together a 7-0 run to take a 9-3 lead. The Eagles continued with a five-kill, 8-3 run to take a 23-11 lead, and Maryland eventually dropped the set, 25-15.
After a back-and-forth start to the fourth set, FGCU began to pull away, going up 12-6 with three service aces that forced Maryland’s second timeout. Maryland drew within two at 16-14 after back-to-back kills from Ivey capped off an 8-4 run, but unfortunately for the Terps, the Eagles capped off a 9-1 run with three straight service aces to take the fourth set, 25-17.
Now facing the possibility of blowing a two-set lead, Maryland opened the fifth and final set — played to 15 points instead of 25 — with back-to-back Ivey kills that sent it on an early 5-2 run. With FGCU battling back, a Dowler block helped Maryland score three straight points to hold its lead, and after trading blows once again, Maryland squeaked out the victory after Russ’ eighth kill of the match to take the set, 15-12.
Three things to know
1. Six straight wins. Maryland extended its win streak to six after back-to-back perfect weekends.
2. Nonconference dominance. Maryland went 10-2 in nonconference play before its first Big Ten match, their second-best nonconference record since Hughes took over as head coach. Maryland will open Big Ten play when it takes on Purdue at home on Sept. 22.
3. Rohrbach impressed. Rohrbach has emerged as one of Maryland’s go-to options on offense, as she was tied for the team lead again with 12 kills.