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Maryland volleyball sweeps Rutgers to start Big Ten play

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The Terps open the conference slate with a home win.

maryland volleyball Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball opened up its Big Ten schedule on a positive note, defeating Rutgers in straight sets: 25-14, 25-18 and 25-15.

Erika Pritchard and Liz Twilley led Maryland in kills with 13 and 12, respectively. It was a balanced attack from the Terps, as Katie Myers contributed seven and Rainelle Jones had five of her own. Allegra Rivas led all players with 14 digs; Pritchard and Nicole Alford tied for second with eight. Maryland domainated with 42 kills to Rutgers’ 28, a .319 hitting percentage and 43 digs compared to Rutgers’ 36.

The Terps improved to 10-3 for the season after posting eight straight-set victories in non-conference play. Since both teams joined the Big Ten, Maryland has a 7-1 record against the Scarlet Knights.

That dominance showed early on. In set one, the Terps opened up an early 9-1 lead. Rutgers closed the lead to 10-4, but that was as close as it got. Maryland continued to dominate in the set, building an 11-point lead at 22-11 and eventually winning the set, 25-14.

The Scarlet Knights received devastating news in the set, as middle blocker Stasa Miljevic came down hard on her left leg and had to leave the set and the match. She was taken over to a medical table for treatment and left the Xfinity Center Pavilion on crutches. Miljevic came back before the beginning of the third set.

Maryland came out flat to begin set two. Rutgers started out the match on a 5-1 run, keeping a four-point lead until Maryland went on a 5-0 run to take an 8-7 lead. Rutgers built back up the lead to 12-10, going on a 3-0 run to get there after the score stayed even, but

Maryland used another 5-0 scoring run to take a 16-13 lead and from there, it was all Terps. Another 5-0 run increased the lead to 22-15, and Maryland would eventually take set two, 25-18.

Set three closely resembled set one. Maryland got off to a hot start, going on an 11-1 scoring run after taking a 5-4 lead to build up an 11-point lead at 16-5. Rutgers then went on a 7-1 scoring run to close the lead to five at 17-12, but that was all as Maryland went on an 8-2 run to finish the set and the match, winning 25-15, and the match, 3-0.

Maryland will travel to Minneapolis on Saturday for their toughest match of the season, an away match at 7:30 ET v. No. 7 Minnesota.

Three things to know

1. It was a balanced attack. The Terps far and away dominated in kills against Rutgers, thanks to a balanced attack. Erika Pritchard and Liz Twilley both had double-digit kills with 25 combined kills. Katie Myers, Rainelle Jones and Emma Schriner combined for 16. Six different Maryland players recorded kills against the Scarlet Knights, a solid stat moving into Saturday’s match against Minnesota.

2. The Terps held a block party. It’s a common saying during matches from the PA announcer, but it was true on Wednesday. The Maryland defense was on point, recording five blocks and blocking several other kills from Rutgers that the Scarlet Knights were able to make plays on. Nicole Alford led the team with three blocks, single-handedly equaling all of Rutgers, who coming into the match, averaged over three blocks a set.

3. Maryland was very efficient on the attack. The Terps had a .319 hitting percentage to Rutgers’ .140 hitting percentage. Maryland hit with power and intent, and both made the major difference in Maryland’s ninth straight set win of the season, a trend the hope to continue moving forward in their Big Ten schedule.