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Maryland volleyball loses in tight rematch with No. 16 Michigan

The Terps had a two-set advantage before falling 3-2.

Volleyball Sammi Silber / Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball fell Wednesday night in its rematch against No. 16 Michigan. Two weeks ago, the Terps lost in Ann Arbor 3-1, and Michigan topped the Terps again in five sets, with scores of 25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 14-25 and 16-18.

The team falls to 0-9 in the Big Ten, and 8-13 overall before the Terps travel to Rutgers in search for their first Big Ten win.

Maryland jumped out to a 2-0 set lead, but the No. 16 team in the country came out with a different fire after the second-set break and overpowered the Terps.

The Terps grabbed an early lead in the match with a 25-21 first-set win. Maryland has been in positions like this before, staying close throughout a set. But finishing has been a problem, especially early in matches. Maryland impressed in the first set with seven kills from Gia Milana, who ended the day with a career-high 22, and nine assists and two kills from Taylor Smith.

Maryland jumped out to a 6-0 second-set lead before Michigan could score its first point, but the No. 16 team in the country would make the set more interesting than that. The Wolverines would go on a 9-1 run to take their first lead at 11-10. Still, Maryland took the second set 25-21.

For a Maryland team that has struggled finishing sets before, it was a welcome sight seeing the young team making no mistake of the first two sets against Michigan. The second set was a game of runs for both teams. Michigan’s 9-1 run early got the Wolverines back in the set, and Maryland’s 7-2 run to close the set put Maryland in unfamiliar territory with a definitive lead over a ranked Big Ten opponent.

Unfortunately, the Terps could not finish the deal.

Michigan came out with a new fire in the third set, and went on to win the set 18-25. The Terps’ four third set service errors added to seven attacking errors as the Wolverines kept a healthy lead throughout the set. Most notably, Milana came off with Michigan up 23-18 over the Terps and got on an exercise bike to work her wrapped knee, but the freshman was back out for the fourth set.

Maryland fell behind 14-4 after an 11-0 Wolverine run. That lead was too large to overcome, and Michigan took the set by a score of 25-14. Maryland only had two errors in the set, but Michigan took care of business to extend the match further.

Michigan won the fifth set 18-16, another heartbreaker for the Terps. Maryland had two match-point opportunities before the Wolverines finished the deal. The fifth set saw the Terps’ worst hitting of the match, with a .091 percentage.

Three things to know:

  1. Sophomore Liz Twilley was out against Michigan, and freshman Megan McTigue took her place. It is unclear if it is another injury to add to the already long list, or if for another reason, but Twilley’s absence gave McTigue her first extended Big Ten action. Previously, the freshman outside hitter was reserved for serves. Wednesday, she chipped in with more than that. She had her first ace of the Big Ten season, two total blocks and five kills.
  2. Blocks from new faces came at the right time for the Terps. Naturally, Ashlyn MacGregor led with nine blocks Wednesday night, but right there with her was Smith with five, Angel Gaskin with three, and Milana with two. It was good to see blocks from Smith as she expands her game from the setter position.
  3. Maryland had the match, but a good Michigan team stayed cool and stole it back. Maryland’s seven errors in the third set did not help, but only two errors in the fourth set did not stop the Wolverines from mounting their comeback. Michigan hit .483 in the fourth set, and continued that into a decisive fifth set. Maryland’s .091 fifth-set hitting percentage ended the upset bid.