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Maryland volleyball beats Iowa in 4 sets at home

The Terps’ four-game home stand is off to a strong start.

maryland volleyball Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball ended a four-game losing streak with a win at home against Iowa on Friday, beating the Hawkeyes in four sets.

The win pushed Maryland to 17-12, officially putting the Terps over .500 for the season and giving them their ninth home win. The Terps have three more regular season games this year, all of which will be played at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.

Iowa’s loss was its third in four games, but Maryland became the first unranked team to beat the Hawkeyes in that stretch.

Gia Milana dominated for the Terps, as usual. She had 19 kills, the most of any player on either team. Hailey Murray’s strong service and late attacks from Samantha Drechsel and Erika Pritchard helped the Terps finish off their first win of the month.

Maryland jumped out to an early lead behind the service of Murray. The Terps’ attack forced Iowa to play on its heels, but the Hawkeyes always seemed to have a response. A strong Milana kill to one of those responses made it 15-10. Maryland errors helped Iowa begin to close the gap late. The Terps finally earned set point at 24-21, when Murray scored her fourth service ace of the set to give Maryland a 1-0 lead.

The close play from the first set carried into the second. The teams tied seven times before one of them reached 10 points, and then tied again at 13. Despite the power and speed of the Terps’ attack, they frequently struggled to get Iowa completely out of system; the Hawkeyes always seemed to find a way to get the ball across. After Iowa tied it once again at 17, Maryland went on a 8-2 run to give them the match at 25-19.

Iowa seemed to get Maryland out of system to start the third, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. Maryland made costly errors early, but battled back to tie the set at 13, just as Iowa had in the second. Unlike Iowa, Maryland was able to pull ahead. The Terps’ momentum carried them to 23-19, but unforced errors allowed Iowa to close the gap to just one point. Milana powered a kill over the net to give Maryland match point. Iowa then scored four unanswered to take the set, 26-24.

After tying at eight early in the fourth, Maryland scored six unanswered to make it 14-8. The Terps held onto that lead, only allowing Iowa within four twice. The second time, at 19-15, prompted a Maryland timeout. Iowa finally closed the gap to three at 20-17. Maryland went on a 4-1 run to give them match point again. This time there was no comeback, as Drechsel scored the final kill to make it 25-18, and give Maryland the match, 3-1.

Maryland plays No. 5 Nebraska for the second time in four games at home Saturday. The Cornhuskers are the last ranked team on the Terps’ regular-season schedule.

Three things to know:

  1. Maryland’s service improved greatly. Although the Terps still made 14 errors, they scored 12 aces in four sets. Maryland has Murray to thank for that: she recorded five aces, four of which came in the first set. Murray’s play helped the Terps earn an early lead, and put the final nail in Iowa’s coffin in the first set. Pritchard and Drechsel earned four and two service aces, respectively.
  2. Maryland’s constant attack continued. The Terps finished with 144 attacks, which was 39 more than Iowa. They also finished with 19 more kills and two more errors at a clip of .243. The Terps have attacked aggressively and often during this last leg of the season, but their win over Iowa showed their constant attack can eventually put a smaller team on their heels and give them the ultimate advantage they need to win the game.
  3. This win was huge for Maryland. Maryland was ranked 46th in RPI entering the weekend. Iowa was ranked 45th. With the Terps win, the teams are tied in both regular season wins (17-12 and 17-13) and conference record (6-11). This was the only meeting for the Terps and Hawkeyes this season, meaning it could work as a important tiebreaker for postseason play. Lastly, Iowa defeated Ohio State on Nov. 18, who Maryland plays Wednesday.