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Maryland volleyball upsets No. 18 USC in straight sets

The Terps are 10-0, and this is their biggest win by far.

Maryland Volleyball Noah Niederhoffer

Maryland volleyball swept No. 18 USC on Thursday in College Park, moving to 10-0 for the 2017 season. It was the Terps’ first home game since August and their first matchup against a ranked team all year, but they shined against the Trojans.

Libero Kelsey Wicinski recorded 10 digs in just the first set, and 16 in the match as a whole. USC played quickly, and her ability to keep the ball up helped Maryland’s offense. Erika Pritchard and Gia Milana headed the attack for the Terps, recording 12 kills each.

The Terps started off strong, as they led 16-11 before a service error by Pritchard allowed the Trojans to close the gap. Later, the Terps controlled the game at 20-15, when two double contact penalties let USC come back and keep the remainder of the set close. After an attack error by USC’s Jordan Dunn, Pritchard got the last kill, winning the set 25-22.

USC controlled the start of the second set. The Trojans led 6-2 early, and both of those Terps points came from service errors. Maryland battled but couldn’t get into a consistent rhythm for most of the set, only catching up to USC at 18-18.

Maryland kept it close, tying the set at 19, 20 and 21. The Terps finally got their first lead at 22-21 Errors led the game to be tied a few more times before Maryland led again, 24-23. Angel Gaskin and and Katie Myers blocked an attack by USC’s Khalia Lanier to clinch the second set for the Terps. It was the only time Maryland had a two-point lead in the entire set.

The third set started well for the Terps. Early kills from Gaskin and Myers pushed Maryland out to a 9-4 lead to start the set. USC battled back, though, tying the set at 15. Shortly thereafter, a Myers kill and a Gaskin and Hailey Murray block gave the Terps a two-point lead. The Terps allowed another point before Murray and Milana recorded defiant kills. The set was at 20-17 when the Trojans called a timeout.

USC recorded two more points before Milana recorded another kill. A service error made the game 22-20. An attack error by Pritchard helped the Trojans to close the score to one.

They wouldn’t score again. Three straight points for the Terps finished out the sweep, at 25-21.

Maryland’s next match is Friday at 11 a.m. against Oklahoma. The Sooners were swept by Washington in the first game of the invite Thursday afternoon.

Three things to know

  1. The Terps capitalized on Trojan errors. Maryland’s attack wasn’t as strong as the Trojans, but when the Trojans made service or attacking errors the Terps capitalized, using the momentum to keep them in the game, especially in the second set. USC even made errors to start the third set, letting the Terps get out to an early lead.
  2. Defense at the right times. Maryland out-blocked USC, but in a game where each team only had a handful. The key was that the Terps blocked at the right times, including the point that won them the second set. This, combined with Wicinski’s digs helped Maryland handle USC’s fast play.
  3. The Terps can win in lots of ways. They showed they can come back from being down early, control the pace from the start of the set and attack at will. Maryland upset USC by making changes and adapting and finding new ways to win. The Terps won each set in a different way, showing they can handle different types of strong attacks.