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Maryland volleyball defeats No. 17 Purdue in 5 sets

The Terps get their second ranked win of the year.

maryland volleyball Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball knocked off No. 17 Purdue in five sets Sunday afternoon, surviving a roller-coaster match for its second win against a ranked opponent this season.

The Terps’ win made them 2-2 for their four-game home stretch, three of which were against ranked opponents. This pushed their conference record to 5-7, where the Terps are currently in ninth place.

Purdue had only lost to one unranked team—Ohio State—prior to coming to College Park.

Freshman Erika Pritchard and Sam Drechsel stepped up in a big way. Pritchard had 18 kills and Drechsel, who dominated in the first set, had 13. Gia Milana and Angel Gaskin added 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Libero Samantha Burgio, still filling in for the injured Kelsey Wicinski, had 14 digs.

The Terps started the first set with a high energy. They earned an early 7-4 lead, with service aces from Gia Milana and Drechsel. Purdue closed the gap, and the teams continued to exchange points, with no team up by more than one until Maryland went up 15-13. The Terps kept the energy up, forcing a Purdue timeout after a Drechsel kill made it 18-15.

After a short Purdue run, Maryland kept their momentum. Drechsel blasted a shot over the net with such force that Purdue’s defensive response caused the ball to soar back over the net out of bounds on Maryland’s side. The Terps were the aggressors, but ultimately a ball handling error by Purdue gave Maryland the first set, 25-23.

Maryland made several service errors early in the second, which cost the Terps an early lead. The Boilermakers went up 11-6 to start the second. Maryland finally got its energy back enough to close the gap to 20-19, but Purdue extended the lead to 23-20. Then a Drechsel kill and Boilermaker error brought Maryland back within one, and Purdue called timeout. The energy was too little too late, as the Terps dropped the second set with the same score as the first, 25-23.

In the third set, Maryland attacked consistently, made few errors, and defended well. Murray and Milana protected the net, while Samantha Burgio earned two service aces. Purdue called a timeout at 13-6 in an arena packed with excitement. Purdue finally closed the gap to three at 20-17 on a block. Gaskin immediately responded with an authoritative kill. Drechsel had another a few plays later on to make it 24-20, which brought the Pavilion to its feet. The Boilermakers scored once more, but then erred on a serve.

Suddenly, Maryland was one set away from beating a ranked Big Ten opponent.

The fourth set was back-and-forth, with the teams finding themselves tied at 21. The Terps finally took a late lead at 23-22, but a Murray service error tied it once again. The teams tied once again at 24 and 25, before Purdue finally took the set on a Gaskin error, 27-25.

Errors cost Maryland early in the fifth. When the Terps traveled 8-4, they had already made three costly service errors. After trailing 11-7, Maryland scored four unanswered to tie it. A service error and a poor block put the Boilermakers up two points and two points from a win, but the Terps were able to tie it again at 13. Each team made an error to tie once again at 14, before Pritchard scored on a decisive spike. Purdue tied it again, but Maryland went up again for match point. Jada Gardner earned the final kill, and the Pavilion erupted once again as the ball sailed into the stands.

Three things to know

  1. Freshmen leading the way: Pritchard and Drechsel, who had perhaps her best game of the season, lead the way in scoring for the Terps. Milana, who frequently leads the team both in the stat sheet and on the court, seemed to be the biggest fan of her freshman teammates’ success, cheering loudly, especially at Drechsel’s service. Drechsel made only one attack error at a clip of .429.
  2. Service problems: Though both Drechsel and Burgio had clutch service aces in the first and third respectively, the team recorded 22 service errors. Maryland’s attack errors were comparable to Purdue’s, but had the Terps been able to exert more control to start volleys, perhaps they could have beaten Purdue by even more.
  3. Tough road ahead: Purdue came to College Park ranked 17th in the country. Maryland is about to go on the road and face four consecutive top-10 teams. Maryland’s win seemed to owe a lot to the energy in the Pavilion; it will beyond challenging for the Terps to steal so much as a set against those opponents away from home.