Before facing No. 7 Washington, Maryland volleyball associate head coach Adam Hughes warned the Huskies could wear teams down with their mistake-free play.
In the finale of the Maryland Challenge, in which Maryland handled Oklahoma and upset No. 18 Southern California in straight sets, Washington made few errors and showed a gap remains between the Terps and the nation's top programs.
Washington started four seniors. Maryland doesn't have that many fourth-year players on its roster.
The Huskies' experience guided them to a straight sets win (25-11, 25-19, 25-18). Still, the Terps are 11-1 heading into Big Ten play, marking their best start since 2005.
"It comes down to skill," coach Steve Aird said. "Especially going into a conference like the one we play in, you have to be exposed a little bit to some really good teams."
Washington hit .319 in the game and made just nine errors. Maryland, meanwhile, hit .096 and committed 20 mistakes.
"[The Huskies] run an offense with tempo and they're a great passing team," middle blocker Hailey Murray said. "Being in system all the team, it's really hard to defend against."
After defeating Southern California on Thursday, Milana said there was still room to improve. After all, Maryland's top two attackers, outside hitter Erika Pritchard and outside hitter Gia Milana, hit below .200.
In the three-set defeat against the Huskies, four Terps hit below .150. Milana led with eight kills, but hit just .156. Murray added seven kills while hitting .778.
But while Maryland stumbled at the end of the Maryland Challenge, its win over Oklahoma offered a glimpse of the squad's promise.
"We're growing," Murray said. "One thing I thought of after the USC match was, 'You know what, it's a great pick off, it's a great win, but you still have to remember that you still have to keep working and every match is going to be a grind."
With Maryland's top blocker, Katie Myers, sidelined with an apparent knee injury against the Sooners, Murray and middle blocker Jada Gardner aimed to fill her absence. Myers leads the team with 43 blocks.
Against Oklahoma on Friday morning, Gardner and Murray combined often to disrupt the Sooners' attack, as the Terps finished with 13 total rejections. Maryland took the match against Oklahoma in straight sets (25-19, 25-15, 25-23).
Gardner notched five kills and four blocks in her first career start, while Murray registered nine kills and eight blocks. Milana paced the Terps' attack against the Sooners with 14 kills.
"Jada's a really good athlete, we've known that," Aird said. "Our setting is going to have to continue to improve in order to get her more balls. But her and Hailey, they had a really good night."
Between the first and second sets, Maryland went on a 20-2 run, giving it an 11-2 lead in the second frame.
Milana and Gardner combined on a block early in the frame, and Milana raised both arms and yelled as she returned to the huddle. Gardner just smiled, already earning more time in a match than she had in the first 10 matches.
But by the end of Gardner's match against Washington, the smiles had disappeared. Still, she chipped in with three blocks and three kills.
"Tonight, we were kind of showed what it takes to go from a good team to a great team," Murray said. "Now … we know what we need to work on, going back into the gym and getting ready for [the Buckeyes]."