Maryland volleyball returned home to the Xfinity Center Pavilion on Saturday for their first home matches of the season. The Terps hosted the Maryland Invite, welcoming Colgate, South Carolina and Liberty to College Park.
They played their first two matches of the weekend invitational on Saturday, splitting the two. Maryland defeated Colgate in straight sets and fell short of defeating South Carolina, losing in five sets. On Sunday, Maryland closed out the invitational on a positive note, defeating Liberty in straight sets to go 2-1 on the weekend.
Here’s how the weekend unfolded:
Saturday morning: Maryland 3, Colgate 0
Maryland had an easy time with the Raiders, though the Terps had a rocky start. They had control in set one, leading as much as 15-9, before Colgate went on an 8-2 run to tie the set up at 19. The Terps finished off the set on a 6-3 run to win the set, 25-22.
Sets two and three were all Maryland. The Terps started the second frame on a 14-4 run and never turned back. Maryland had as big as a 12-point lead, but ended up winning the set, 25-13, one point away from their largest set victory of the season.
While closer, set three was very much the same. Colgate got out to a decent start, but Maryland regained control, extending its lead to as many as eight points, winning the set 25-17, and the match in straight sets.
The Terps led in every major offensive and defensive category, as Erika Pritchard posted nine kills and Allegra Rivas had 14 digs. Liz Twilley and Rainelle Jones also contributed eight kills. Twilley hit for a .571 percentage and Jones for a .727 percentage.
This was a tune-up for the nightcap, Maryland’s toughest non-conference opponent on their 2018 schedule.
Saturday evening: South Carolina 3, Maryland 2
The Terps and Gamecocks came into the match with one loss each (6-1 and 7-1). There was a packed house at the Xfinity Center Pavilion and part of the Mighty Sound of Maryland came to support the home team.
It was a loud environment, and that seemed to feed into the energy for both teams. It was a back-and-forth match. South Carolina took the first two sets, Maryland took the next two, and the Gamecocks sealed the victory in the tie-breaker fifth set.
In set one, South Carolina held the lead throughout, and while Maryland went on scoring runs to get back into the set, the Gamecocks kept their poise to win. South Carolina led as big as 22-16, with the help of a 5-0 and 4-0 scoring run. Maryland rallied late, tying the score from a 7-1 scoring run before the Gamecocks got the last two points of the match to win, 25-23.
Set two had drama and missed opportunities. The score was even for most of the set. Maryland built a two-point lead late at 21-19, before USC tied it up. The score remained tied at 24, both teams now needing to win by two. South Carolina had two consecutive chances to win the match, but Maryland tied it up. Maryland then had three chances to win the set and tie the match, but South Carolina denied them. A service error by Katie Myers started a 3-0 scoring run from the Gamecocks to win the set, 32-30, and go up 2-0 in the match.
Maryland rebounded, though. After the third set was tied at 12, Maryland ended the frame on a 13-6 scoring run, winning 25-18. The Terps then jumped out to a 6-1 lead in set four. South Carolina tied the score and kept pace, keeping it tied as late as 17, before Maryland went on a 7-2 scoring run to go up 24-19, eventually winning the set 25-22 and tying the match 2-2.
In the tiebreaker fifth set, Maryland got off to another hot start, leading 4-1 early. However, South Carolina turned on another gear, going on a 14-6 run to finish the match, including an 8-2 run after going down 4-1. The Gamecocks had two 4-0 scoring runs and a 5-0 scoring run in the match to win, 15-10, and the match, 3-2.
Despite the loss, this was Maryland’s first big test and the young team battled with adversity. Pritchard led the Terps again, recording her fifth double-double of the season—a match-leading 20 kills and co-team-leading 19 digs, tied with Allegra Rivas. Twilley was second on the team with 17 kills in the match and Nicole Alford contributed 15 digs of her own.
Sunday afternoon: Maryland 3, Liberty 0
Coming off their five-set loss to South Carolina, the Terps came out rusty against the Flames. However, thanks to stellar defense, they stood strong and swept Liberty. All three sets ended up being closer than expected.
Maryland started out the first set well, before Liberty went on a 7-2 scoring run to go up 12-9. Both teams went back and forth, keeping the contest relatively even, until 19-19, when Maryland went on a 6-0 scoring run to win the set 25-19.
After the score was tied at four in set two, Maryland went on a 7-1 scoring run to take a 11-5 lead. Maryland held the lead as late as 15-9 before Liberty went on an 11-4 run to tie the score at 19. Maryland closed the set on a 6-2 burst to win the set, 25-19.
In set three, Liberty broke to an early 7-3 lead. Maryland went on an 8-1 scoring run to take an 11-8 lead. From that point on, Maryland never looked back. They extended the lead as far as 22-15, but Liberty came back on a 7-2 scoring run to cut the Maryland lead to 24-22. Maryland took the next point to win the set and the match.
Despite a poorer offensive performance, Maryland’s defense played much better, recording 10 blocks in the match. Pritchard led with 11 kills, and Twilley and Jones followed with eight and seven kills respectively. The Terps also benefitted from 28 Liberty errors.
The Terps have no quit.
Even after going down two sets against a solid South Carolina team, Maryland continued to battle and battled hard. Head coach Adam Hughes spoke with the team after the second set, which Maryland lost 32-30, and after that, Maryland controlled the tempo of the match.
Despite losing in the fifth set, Maryland’s second five-set loss of the season, the team fed off the home crowd and increased noise from the band and packed Xfinity Center Pavilion. With four non-conference matches left to play before their Big Ten schedule begins, this was a big test for Maryland, and they almost aced it.
Maryland travels to Philadelphia next weekend for the Temple Invitational to face Temple, New Hampshire and Princeton. The Terps’ Big Ten schedule begins against Rutgers on September 19th.