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Maryland volleyball falls in straight sets to No. 2 Minnesota

It’s the second time this season the Terps fell 3-0 to Minnesota, but this time it was tighter.

Maryland Volleyball Noah Niederhoffer

Maryland volleyball lost in straight sets to No. 2 Minnesota on Sunday, with set scores of 16-25, 19-25, 22-25.

The team was comparatively better than its last time out against the Golden Gophers. In the Terps’ first Big Ten match of the season in September, they were swept without reaching 15 points in a single set.

The Terps kept it closer—they put up more than 15 points in each set at home at Xfinity Pavilion. The small improvement may offer some consolation for Maryland’s 16th loss of the season, and 12th of the Big Ten campaign. Maryland (10-16, 2-12) showed infrequent and short flashes of its dominant third-set performance against Purdue on Wednesday. The up-and-down 3-1 loss lent a 25-15 third set win over the Boilermakers, but only a few moments on Sunday made it appear as if the Terps could realistically compete with a team of Minnesota’s caliber.

Minnesota jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first set before coach Steve Aird called a timeout to settle the pace. Outside hitter Gia Milana came out of the break with a kill and an ace to immediately narrow the set, but the Golden Gophers kept a healthy lead throughout.

The Terps’ second wind was a result of a kill and an ace following another timeout. Minnesota stopped Maryland’s climb back into the game with a 6-2 run to end the set, winning 25-16. Maryland hit .000 in the first set, struggling with 10 errors. Minnesota immediately got off to a strong start at the net. The Big Ten’s best blocking team had five blocks in set one, with Hannah Tapp leading with four block assists.

Maryland would show flashes of keeping pace with Minnesota in the second set. The Golden Gophers called a timeout after three-straight Terps points, but already with a 17-12 lead, the upperclassmen-dominated Minnesota lineup finished the set 25-19. Hailey Murray led the Terps’ second set with four kills, a part of a much cleaner set of play.

Milana’s fast start to the third set gave Maryland its first lead of the match, and helped to keep it for some time. Her back-row kill, followed by a Minnesota net violation, forced the Golden Gophers to call a timeout, trailing 9-6. Following the timeout, Minnesota’s five-point run forced Maryland to call a timeout, trailing 13-11. The Golden Gophers could not push off the Terps completely. Maryland would narrow the match to 21-20 before Minnesota put it away 25-22.

Freshman outside hitter Alexis Hart had four kills in the third set, and eight total. Senior Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with 13 kills. For Maryland, Milana led the Terps with 17 kills, and sophomore Liz Twilley pitched in with eight.

Three things to know:

  1. Minnesota demonstrated early and often its blocking game. The Golden Gophers lead the Big Ten in blocking, with 2.90 a set. The height dominance at the net had a lot to do with Maryland’s 10 first set errors, forcing the Terps to hit long. Minnesota finished the match with 10.5 blocks. Junior middle blocker Molly Lohman led the Golden Gophers with six blocks, and Hannah Tapp and Paige Tapp both added four.
  2. Maryland got cleaner throughout the match. It was reflected in each set’s score. Ten errors from the Terps helped Minnesota win the first set by nine points. Seven errors in the second set let Maryland challenge before falling 19-25. Then, only three in the early part of the third set led the Terps to a 3-point lead over Minnesota before falling 25-22 with seven errors.
  3. Maryland put up real fight in the deciding third set. Unlike during Sept. 23’s 25-12 shellacking of a third set, Maryland made the Golden Gophers work for their straight-sets win. The Terps held their first leads of the match in set three by as many as three points early on.