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Maryland volleyball falls to No. 23 Michigan in 4 sets

The Terps took a set early, but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Wolverines.

maryland volleyball Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball battled against No. 23 Michigan, but ultimately came up short 3-1. The Wolverines took the match 25-19, 19-25, 25-15, and 25-21.

Gia Milana led the Terps with 16 kills, and middle blocker Jada Gardner finished with a career-high nine kills and .471 hitting percentage. Freshmen Erika Pritchard and Samantha Drechsel added eight and seven kills, respectively, but they weren’t as efficient as Milana and Gardner and hit a combined .040.

The Wolverines were on fire the final two sets. After hitting .108 the first two sets, Michigan hit .381 over the final two frames. Claire Kieffer-Wright and Carly Skjodt wore down the Terps with 15 and 14 kills respectively, and Kieffer-Wright was unstoppable late in the match.

Adeja Lambert started off the first set with a kill, giving the Wolverines a lead they would never relinquish. Michigan pushed the lead to 12-6 before Maryland went on a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 12-10. The Wolverines responded with a 8-1 run to push the lead to 20-11. In the middle of that run, Pritchard’s kill appeared to cut the lead to 15-12, but Michigan head coach Mark Rosen challenged and the call was overturned. The Terps tried to rally, but fell short, 25-19.

It was a sloppy set, as Maryland committed 11 errors and hit .032. The Wolverines struggled too and hit just .143, but the Terps’ errors and Michigan’s six blocks gave them an advantage.

Maryland cleaned up its attack in the second set, and battled back from an early hole to take the set, 25-19. The Terps turned a 5-1 deficit into a 10-9 lead, but neither team could build a lead bigger than two until Maryland reeled off six points in a row to force set point. Maryland had 16 kills and hit .293 in the set, compared to just nine kills and a .108 hitting percentage for the Wolverines.

The Terps took advantage of three errors to take a 3-2 led in the third set, but Michigan went on a 7-0 run and dominated the rest of the way. Maryland would never get closer than four, and the Wolverines cruised to a 25-15 third set win. Michigan’s attack was too much to handle, as it hit .387 and had 16 kills. The Terps struggled to generate an attack, hitting just .062 with just seven kills.

The teams went back-and-forth with the fourth set and it was tied at 12, but the Wolverines ripped off three straight points and eventually built a 22-16 lead. Maryland responded with a 4-0 run, but Michigan scored three of the final four points to take the set and the match.

The Terps get a small reprieve from grueling Big Ten play next Friday when they take on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are just 1-62 in Big Ten play since joining the conference in 2014, with their only win coming against Maryland in 2015. The Terps, however, have improved a lot since then.

Three things to know

1. Maryland struggled to stop Michigan’s attack. Once the Wolverines got on a roll, the Terps couldn’t keep up. Michigan continued to find holes in Maryland’s defense, and this powered them to a victory. Maryland actually outkilled Michigan, 50-48, but the Wolverines had an easier time getting it over the Terps’ blockers.

2. Jada Gardner stepped up. With Hailey Murray having an off night, the freshman rose to the challenge and replaced her production. She finished with a career high eight kills, and it’s good to see her improving as the season goes on.

3. Gia Milana put on a show in her home state. The sophomore grew up just an hour away from Ann Arbor, and had a solid game with her family in attendance, finishing with 16 kills. Milana’s 39 attempts were the most on the team, but three other players had 20 or more. If the rest of the team was as efficient as Milana, Maryland could’ve potentially pulled off the upset.