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Maryland volleyball falls in straight sets to Northwestern

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The Terps lost both matches 3-0 on their last road trip of the season.

Courtesy of Maryland Volleyball

Maryland volleyball fell to Northwestern on Saturday in straight sets, with set scores of 24-26, 22-25, 21-25.

Maryland (11-19, 3-15) had to do a lot of things better to win this match, but instead carried over a similar performance as in Friday’s straight-sets loss to Illinois. The Terps struggled to hit cleanly, with a .161 hitting percentage, but Liz Twilley stood out for Maryland with 11 kills and a .357 hitting percentage. Maryland did improve its blocking, finishing with seven, but it was not enough against the Wildcats when the Terps struggled with receiving.

Northwestern took set one, 26-24. Despite an early Northwestern lead, Maryland came back to put pressure on the Wildcats on senior night. Senior Sofia Lavin helped push Northwestern to an early first set lead, with three-straight kills to force the Terps to call a timeout, trailing 11-5. The Terps stormed back late to tie the set at 20, and took their first lead at 23-22. Symone Abbott put away the set for Northwestern put with an ace.

The Terps found themselves trailing set two immediately, but took advantage of Northwestern mistakes on a 5-1 run to narrow the set to 9-10. Gia Milana tied the second set at 14 after a kill and an ace, but the Wildcats kept Maryland out of reach until Kelsey Wicinski’s ace narrowed it to 22-23. The Wildcats finished off the set with a 25-22 set win.

Maryland managed to grab its largest lead of the match at 10-8 before the Wildcats settled down to complete the sweep, 25-21. Twilley put the Terps ahead at 16-15 after two straight kills, and again at 17-16. The sophomore was a bright spot in Maryland’s attack on Friday. Northwestern relied on Symone Abbott down the stretch. The junior, fifth in the Big Ten in kills per set, led with 16 kills.

Three things to know:

  1. Northwestern’s seniors did their thing on senior night. The Wildcats hosted their last home match of the season, and Lavin left a lasting memory with a quick start. Through two sets, she had 11 kills and two aces for Northwestern.
  2. Maryland’s blocking game kept the match close. The Terps lost, but each set was close thanks to the defense at the net. Maryland struggled on Friday with blocking against Illinois, finally scoring one in the third set. The Terps finished with seven blocks on Saturday, Ashlyn McGregor with six of them.
  3. This was a disappointing performance to end a disappointing last road trip. This game was vital for a late push to reach last season’s five Big Ten wins, but Maryland replicated a poor Friday night performance. Northwestern (9-21, 2-16) sits second to last in the Big Ten standing, but is not a team that rolls over against top competition. The Wildcats narrowly lost to Wisconsin last week in five sets, and fell to Ohio State 3-1 on Friday. The Terps have one final homestand left in the season, facing Purdue and Indiana next week, so five wins is still possible.