Indiana volleyball outside hitter Breanna Edwards had just landed her 39th kill of the night, setting up the Hoosiers’ eighth match point of the fifth set against Maryland.
The Terps and Hoosiers had been battling for close to three hours after Maryland managed to come back from being down two sets, but it looked like Indiana might finally pull away.
Maryland outside hitter Erika Pritchard quickly flipped the script, recording two straight kills as the Terps went on to defeat Indiana in their longest fifth set in 14 years, ending a five-match losing streak.
The Terps’ momentum lasted one match as they fell flat against Purdue, losing in three sets to finish the road weekend in Indiana with a 1-1 record.
Indiana (18-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-20, 23-21)
After dropping the first two sets against Indiana on Friday, Maryland extended the match to five sets with big runs in the third and fourth.
The final period was shear madness as the Terps fought off eight match points in their longest fifth set since 2005. But they took control when it mattered most and managed to take it 23-21 to defeat the Hoosiers for the second time this season.
“I thought the best part was we’ve had some problems in the past executing under pressure,” head coach Adam Hughes said. “That fifth set created some situations where both sides of the attack had to execute under pressure and also built composure. They had a couple set points. We did as well and they didn’t let one or two plays rattle us.”
Indiana jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first set before Maryland closed that gap to 17-15 and further to 19-18. But it wasn’t enough as Indiana outside hitter Breanna Edwards landed three straight kills, helping guide the Hoosiers to a 6-0 run and opening set win.
Maryland took a 7-6 lead early on in the second set, but Indiana quickly took over after that. The Hoosiers went on a 8-2 run and never looked back, hitting over .300 en route to taking the set, 25-18
As Indiana’s attack regressed, the game’s momentum started to shift towards the Terps in the third set. Maryland went on a 5-0 run to take a 10-9 lead, keeping pace with the Hoosiers before two Rebekah Rath kills propelled the Terps to a set win. After trailing 22-21, the Terps ended the set with on a 5-0 run.
Maryland went on a similar run to close out the fourth set. The Terps maintained a four-point lead, before Indiana climbed back into the match and took a 20-19 lead. But due to key kills from middle blocker Katie Myers and setter Nicole Alford, Maryland completed the set on a 6-0 spurt to take its second set of match.
“We had been there before, we’ve been there plenty of times. I don’t think we ever felt like this was undoable,” Alford said. “I think there was always a belief, that ok, three more sets, we’re gonna go back and win this.”
The fifth set tiebreaker went beyond 15 points, but early on, it looked like Maryland ran out of steam as Indiana jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The Terps clawed their way back to even the set at 8-8, but it took a full team effort to fight off eight match points.
However, the Terps didn’t back down and continued to stay in the match. Down 21-20, Erika Pritchard, landed two straight kills to put the Terps at match point.
Needing a point to stay alive, Indiana set up Edwards on the left side of the court for a kill opportunity. But her spike was batted down by Myers and Alford, and their collective block sealed the deal for the Terps.
“I think everyone did a good job of staying focused, calm, trusting their training and trusting their teammates to show up,” Myers said.
No. 16 Purdue (17-25, 15-25, 19-25)
The almost three hours that Maryland played on the court in its dramatic win over the Hoosiers had an immediate effect against No. 16 Purdue.
The Boilermakers distanced themselves early on in set one, going on 4-0 and 5-0 runs to take a 17-7 lead, hitting nearly .700 in the set to that point. Maryland tried to get back into the set, closing the lead to 20-14. But once again, the Terps dropped the set, falling into an early match hole.
“When we were controlling the ball, we had some success offensively, but we lost the serve and pass,” Hughes said. “We couldn’t knock them out of system and we were out of system a lot.”
That fatigue carried over into set two, where Maryland fell into its seventh-straight 2-0 match hole. The Terps’ attack was better, hitting .258 with 12 kills, but Purdue used several runs to extend its lead. And with a 20-12 advantage, Caitlyn Newton’s five kills led Purdue to a 10-point set win.
Maryland showed life in the third set to take an early 7-5 lead, giving itself a pocket of opportunity to flip the script like on Friday night at Indiana. But Purdue tied the match back up, never letting the Terps establish a real advantage.
The two traded points for some time before the Boilermakers went on 11-2 run to take the set and match, 25-19.
It was a dominant performance for the Boilermakers, hitting .315 with 42 kills, while Maryland struggled on the attack after finding its stroke against Indiana, hitting .190 with 35 kills.
“The first two sets were kind of feeling the vibe of the game and the players,” sophomore middle blocker Rainelle Jones said. “... In the third set, we had a lead many, many times, but they started hitting harder, taking more shots and blocking a lot more balls.”
Three things to know
1. Two matches, two comebacks against the Hoosiers. Going down 2-0 against Indiana was familiar territory for the Terps, who were in the same position a month ago in College Park. Despite almost losing in straight sets to Indiana, Maryland put together three straight sets to earn a much-needed win in Bloomington.
2. Katie Myers and Nicole Alford made an instant impact. After being out for last weekend’s matches, the duo made their returns to Maryland’s starting lineup against Indiana. Alford had a season-high 50 assists in the five-set win against the Hoosiers, while Myers hit .300 with nine kills.
3. Maryland has been unable to defeat ranked opposition. The Terps are now 0-7 against ranked opponents this season after a straight-set loss to Purdue. Maryland has won two sets against ranked teams this year, both coming in the Terps’ five-set loss to Penn State on Oct. 11.