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Maryland volleyball loses to No. 5 Minnesota in straight sets

The Terps kept it close, but the Golden Gophers were too much.

maryland volleyball Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball lost to No. 5 Minnesota Friday night in straight sets. The loss dropped the Terps to 16-9 on the season and makes them 5-8 in Big Ten play. The Golden Gophers, on the other hand, won their 22nd game, and they have only lost to Nebraska and Michigan State.

Erika Pritchard and Gia Milana both had star performances. Milana had 14 kills for a clip of .281 and Pritchard had 10 kills for a .280 clip. Pritchard’s play in the second and Milana’s in the third helped keep Maryland in the game despite the team frequently trailing.

Maryland kept the game close to start. The score was 10-10 early, with Maryland attacking at a rate consistent with Minnesota. The Gophers mounted a run, combined with Terrapin errors, that gave them a 19-14 lead before a late Maryland timeout. Minnesota errors and kills from Milana and Angel Gaskin helped a 6-2 Terp run, and Minnesota lead by just one. Minnesota pushed back, but another error and a Milana ace helped keep it close. A Milana service error and a kill was all the Gophers needed to take a close first set 25-23.

Minnesota came out attacking to start the second, earning a 7-4 lead off of a strong clip. Maryland later trailed by five, but three Pritchard kills helped close the gap to 13-12. When Minnesota gained a more solid lead, Maryland went on an 8-2 run to lead 21-19, with Milana picking up a couple kills and another ace. The Gophers ultimately pulled ahead at the end of another close set One final Terp error gave the Gophers the set at 25-23.

Maryland was plagued early in the third by errors, slipping behind 12-6. The Terps managed to close the gap to three at 16-13, only to commit a service error and lose their momentum. Milana and a few Minnesota errors were all that kept Maryland in the beginning of the third set. After two straight Golden Gopher errors, the score was 22-21. Minnesota scored three unanswered, with the last two coming off errors from Pritchard and Milana. They took the final set of the sweep, 25-21.

Maryland’s road weekend continues with a game against No. 8 Nebraska Saturday night.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland played efficient: The Terps went toe to toe with the Gophers. The matches were close, in part to an efficient attack in the first two sets, especially when compared to the No. 5 Minnesota team. The Terps actually recorded two more kills than the Gophers and only one more attack error. Maryland attacked at a clip of .222 to Minnesota’s .232.
  2. Service errors: Aird talked about the importance of having a good service rotation Wednesday, but the Terps recorded 11 service errors against Minnesota, after a strong performance from behind the line Sunday against Purdue. Drechsel, who has been working on a jump serve that earned her two aces against Purdue, recorded five service errors and one ace.
  3. Maryland did what it needed to compete. With three more ranked road opponents on the horizon, starting with Saturday night’s game against No. 8 Wisconsin, the Terps proved that they could keep a set close multiple times. It may be tough to steal even sets against these teams, but Maryland’s early efficient attack kept them close to a highly ranked conference opponent.