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Maryland volleyball swept by No. 3 Penn State

The Terps finish the home weekend 1-1.

maryland volleyball Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball lost to No. 3 Penn State Saturday in straight sets on the Xfinity Center main floor. Penn State handed Maryland its fourth Big Ten loss of the season, and fifth overall. The Terps are now 2-4 in the conference and 13-5 on the year.

Despite a poor second set, the Terps attacked consistently with the Nittany Lions. Kelsey Wicinski played well defensively, as usual, recording 13 digs. Four Terps had five kills or more: Erika Pritchard, Gia Milana, Hailey Murray and Samantha Drechsel. Maryland and Penn State were even on total kills, with 34.

The overall difference, as usual, was errors.

Maryland managed to limit errors to start the first set, and attacked better than it had the night before. The Terps hung with the Nittany Lions until the score reached 10-9. Penn State’s efficient attacked paired with a few Maryland errors helped the Lions jump out in front after a close start. When they started trailing, the Terps began to make more errors, and when combined with the Nittany Lions’ great defense, which recorded seven blocks in the first set alone, Maryland struggled to get back into the set. Penn State took the set on a Milana service error, 25-17.

Maryland actually earned more kills than the Nittany Lions in the first set, but had no blocks, seven attack errors, and five service errors.

Penn State began the second set with an all out attack, and the Terps had little response. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 15-4 lead after a 10 point run. Maryland’s attack was inefficient, as they attacked often, but earned kills about as often as they erred. Multiple times, the Terps didn’t have the chance to attack, and would struggle to find a way to get the ball over the net. They never had a response to the Nittany Lions run, and Penn State took the set 25-11.

Penn State attacked six times fewer than Maryland in the second set, but recorded two more kills and only one attack error.

After falling behind 3-0 to start the third, Maryland went on a 8-1 run. They attacked well, and even made fewer errors. Penn State was able to tie it at 12 after trailing 10-6. They pulled ahead briefly, before Maryland tied it again at 15. The teams battled back and forth, tying at every score between 15 and 21. Finally, Maryland pulled ahead at 23-21. They wouldn’t score again as Penn State scored four straight to end the sweep at 25-23.

Maryland ended the set with one more kill and one more error than the Nittany Lions.

Penn State entered the game with only one loss on the season, when Nebraska swept them in their first conference game. The Nittany Lions had also won 22 of the 28 times the teams had met, and the Nittany Lions had defeated Ohio State on the road the night before in five sets.

The two teams will meet again Nov. 11 in Pennsylvania.

Three things to know

  1. Communication is key. In addition to attack and service errors, the Terps struggled multiple times to get the ball over the net due to apparent communication errors. Multiple times, a player would dive on the floor for a ball, only to send it into the stands. The Terps were unable to turn the momentum around and respond, even when Penn State’s attack wasn’t at its most effective.
  2. Comparative inexperience. The Terps started three freshman both Friday and Saturday night. Penn State had five starting seniors. Ultimately, Maryland’s mistakes can be written up to inexperience. The starting freshman combined for nine attack errors. The entire Penn State team had as many. Maryland is still building their team, but still are making good progress, as can be seen by their close third set against Penn State.
  3. Maryland’s weekend went as expected. Beating the No. 3 team in the nation is a tall order for anyone, but the Terps earned a win against Rutgers. Maryland’s next two opponents are Illinois and Northwestern. Both teams have similar records with Maryland, beat Rutgers and lost to Penn State. Those will likely be closer games and better tests for Maryland’s ability to compete with conference foes.