Maryland volleyball did not play its best match in its Saturday win against Stony Brook, hitting a season-low .188 while making 31 total errors. But in the Terps' weekend finale, they cleaned their attacking performance and dominated Canisius for a straight-sets win to sweep the Akron Tournament and advance to 5-1 this season.
Despite struggling at times against Stony Brook, Maryland excelled behind a career day from outside hitter Erika Pritchard, who paced Maryland with a career-high 22 kills. In the second contest, Pritchard supplied 19 kills and 10 digs for her fifth double-double this year.
The Terps fell behind 10-4 to the Seawolves in the early-goings of set one, making four errors. Stony Brook kept them at bay throughout the frame as Maryland hit just .105. The Seawolves, meanwhile, outblocked the Terps 4-0 and hit a match-high .343 to claim a first-set win.
But after Stony Brook dominated the opening period, Maryland rediscovered its form. After a back-and-forth beginning to the second set, the Terps pulled away for a 14-11 edge. A Seawolves timeout helped Stony Brook retie the set at 15 apiece, but with seven Seawolves errors, the Terps retook control and won the second frame, 25-19.
Stony Brook again struggled to take care of the volleyball in the third set, with seven errors and a .070 hitting percentage stifling its offense. Maryland hit just .175, but it was enough to establish a 25-21 advantage.
Then, trailing 9-5 in set four, the Terps erupted on an 11-2 run, which included five kills from Pritchard in the stretch. Pritchard's 22 kills paced Maryland, and she added 15 digs in the first contest Saturday.
The Seawolves did close the gap to 20-18, but Maryland managed to pull away, ending the match, fittingly, with a kill from Pritchard.
While coach Adam Hughes admitted that his team did not perform at their full potential against the Seawolves, he also gave credit to Stony Brook for its performance.
"They were prepared, they were excited, and of course everyone is trying to beat a Big Ten team," Hughes said. "We maybe weren't maybe ready to go from the start and I'll take the blame for that."
Maryland, once again led by Pritchard, toppled Canisius in the second match. Pritchard hit .700 in the first frame with eight kills as the Terps hit .419 and won the set 25-12. Maryland, with a .342 hitting percentage, pulled away for a 25-16 second-set win.
The third frame was much tighter, as the Griffins kept within one or two points throughout the set. Once again, a kill from Pritchard ended the match.
Pritchard built off her standout first set, finishing the second match with 19 kills, 10 digs and a .514 hitting percentage.
Pritchard gave much of the credit for her career day to setter Nicole Alford. Alford, who had 70 total assists on the day, has been the Terps' primary setter.
"I finally clicked with Nicole today," Pritchard said. "Against Akron I clicked with her and got in a rhythm and from there it was really easy to hit off her sets. So that helped a lot."
Outside hitter Liz Twilley was the Terps second-best offensive option against the Griffins. After registering just one kill against Stony Brook, Twilley exploded for 11 in her second match of the day.
"I had a little bit more jump in the second match," Twilley said. "Playing with confidence definitely helped me. And when your team is playing well, it's easy to bounce back after a not-so-great match when everyone has a lot of energy and confidence."