The Maryland volleyball team dominated first sets in its undefeated showing at the Liberty Invitational last weekend, taking opening frames by 28 combined points.
But in the Thunder Invite opener against Toledo, Maryland started slowly. The Terps trailed by as many as 11 points in the first set, and the Rockets maintained a hitting percentage above .500 for the first half of the frame. Maryland ultimately dropped the opener, 25-22.
However, after the initial setback, Maryland's serving game helped it earn a 3-2 win (22-25, 25-13, 16-25, 25-22, 15-12), pushing the squad to a 7-0 record.
Outside hitter Gia Milana led the Terps with 21 kills. Outside hitter Erika Pritchard chipped in with 16 kills and a team-high five aces, while middle blocker Hailey Murray added six blocks.
Following Toledo's first-set victory, Maryland improved its blocking and serving. Pritchard notched back-to-back service aces early in the second frame. The Terps finished with six aces in the set.
Then, a strong middle presence sustained the lead. Middle blocker Katie Myers and Milana combined for a block, causing them to raise their arms and yell in celebration. The effort put the Terps up, 15-6, and helped Maryland take the second set, 25-13.
But after the Terps dropped the third frame, they faced two must-win sets to remain undefeated.
In the fourth set, Murray and opposite hitter Angel Gaskin leapt over the right side of the net and combined for a block, giving the Terps a 17-11 lead. The upperclassmen clenched their fists and Murray stomped her foot on the way to the huddle, illustrating the Terps' focus as they aimed to preserve their undefeated record.
Pritchard started the fifth set with a block and two kills. She added two more blocks later in the frame before opposite/outside hitter Samantha Drechsel and Murray combined for a final block, helping Maryland escape the upset bid from the Rockets.