It looked like the tides had turned for Maryland volleyball despite losing the first set in Saturday’s match against Ohio State.
The Terps had jumped out to an 11-6 lead in set two, but their advantage was quickly spoiled as a Chloe Prejean service error began a 6-0 Buckeye run. Maryland lost its spark from there, losing the set 25-18 before dropping the match in straight sets — its third consecutive defeat.
Maryland (12-12, 4-8 Big Ten) has been inconsistent since Big Ten play began, now falling to four games under .500 in the conference. Once again, one of the least productive attacks in the league fell flat and put the Terps in an early hole.
While not flashy, Ohio State’s attack took big swings from the start, jumping out to a 10-5 lead aided by a challenge that was reversed in its favor. A five-point lead turned into 10 after an 11-3 run, and despite a late 7-2 Terps run, the Buckeyes were up too big, too late, taking the opening set.
Ohio State (12-12, 5-7) wasn’t dominant on the attack, hitting .211, but its 16 kills doubled Maryland’s eight, along with a .083 hitting percentage for the Terps in the set.
Like in recent matches, Maryland had opportunities to get back into the match, leading in both the second and third sets. The Terps got out to an 11-6 lead in set two after a 5-0 run that middle blocker Katie Myers started with a kill. From that point, Ohio State went on a 16-5 run, taking an initial three-point lead that started from a Maryland service error.
The error jump started the Buckeyes, who ran away with the set while hitting just .156. Maryland’s attack fell apart after starting so well and the Terps faced their third-straight 2-0 match deficit.
Maryland had even more chances to change momentum in set three, taking a two-point lead early on before the Buckeyes took an 11-10 lead. Maryland stormed ahead with a 6-1 run to take a 16-12 lead, but that disappeared after a 6-2 Ohio State run.
A second crucial challenge reversal gave Ohio State a late 23-21 lead, but Maryland fought back late to tie the set at 24-24 after fighting off match point at 24-23. Maryland had several opportunities to close the set, forcing three set points: one via a Rebekah Rath kill, one from an Ohio State attack error and the other a Buckeye service error.
However, the Buckeyes stayed alive thanks to a Madison Smeathers kill to tie the set at 25-25 and two Gabby Gonzales kills, tying the set at 26-26 and 27-27. The Terps were put on the ropes late, fighting off one more Ohio State match point, but on the third, Jenaisya Moore finished off the match with a kill, her match-leading 19th.
Three things to know
1. Maryland couldn’t hold momentum. Whatever Maryland had going right in the second set as it went up five points, didn’t last long as Ohio State went on a 12-point swing, down five to winning the set by seven.
2. The Terps faltered on the attack. Through two sets, Maryland had 10 less kills than the Buckeyes. Neither team hit above .220 in the match, but the Terps weren’t aggressive on the attack, hitting .121 with 32 kills, 17 less than the Buckeyes.
3. Maryland has struggled in road conference matches. With Saturday’s loss, Maryland is now 2-4 on the road in the Big Ten. Three of those losses have come to unranked opponents, including the Buckeyes, who completed the season sweep of Maryland.