After losing their first two matches of the OU Invitational, the girls looked to close things on a high note. Unfortunately, they ran into a powerhouse in the USC Trojans, who did not provide the Terps with much hope as the match went along.
Ashlyn MacGregor opened that match with a kill, and the Terps were quickly on top. But that was it. Southern Cal did what it has done for the majority of the season: dominate. It was respectable at first, as Maryland was able to keep the Trojans high-powered offense within reach. But the score quickly became 15-8, prompting Coach Aird to burn his first timeout. It was hard for the Terps to re-group, as USC's offensive attack remained extremely effective.
The final score for the first set would be 25-18. Despite not winning, it was a positive sign that the Terps were able to score eighteen points against such a well-balanced team.
The Terps efforts lasted a little longer to begin the second set. The squad was able to keep Southern Cal close, with a Liz Twilley kill closing the gap to 11-7 early on. A 7-3 Trojan run extended the lead late into the set, and Maryland struggled to keep up.
Maryland went on to drop the second set 25-15. But, strong play was put forward from Haley Murray, and Angel Gaskin, who would tie for the second most kills in the match with six.
The third set showed signs of an extremely capable Maryland bunch. Down by two sets in the finale of a three match tournament against some elite competition, the Terps came out and matched USC point for point for a solid portion of the match. Adreene' Elliott carried the team on her shoulders, slamming home three of the Terps first ten points. To that point, the score was 11-10 in favor of the Trojans.
But Elliott's strong play continued. When things seemed to start slipping away, Elliott quickly snatched a point, making the score 14-11. A rare Trojan attack error followed, and the Terps were suddenly alive again. But UMD was only able to score five more points the rest of the way, and the Trojans yet again took the set with relative ease, winning by a score of 25-17. Thus ending the match, and the Terps were ready return home to College Park.
It just seemed that the Trojans were too much to handle for the Maryland team. Now this is not a knock on Maryland, as USC has been a perennial powerhouse in college volleyball for years. They own the sixth-highest hitting percentage in the country, as well as an average of 14.65 kills per set, which is respectfully the ninth-highest in the country.
But the Terps showed they could play with some of the best teams in the country this weekend, which is something they should take with them as they look to make some noise in the Big Ten.
The fun really begins now as the Terps will open Big Ten Conference play with a HUGE test. Sixth-ranked Illinois will come to visit College Park next Friday night. The match will begin at 7PM, and it will be time to see what this Maryland team is made of.