Before facing No. 3 Minnesota on Friday, Maryland volleyball had failed to reach 20 points in aset during four matches against top-10 opponents this season.
But two Golden Gophers timeouts midway through the first set couldn’t slow down the Terps’ attack, which hit .414 with 17 kills and three blocks in one of their most complete displays this year. Maryland cruised to a 25-17 frame win.
While the Terps kept things interesting for the rest of the match, they were unable to repeat their performance from the first set, dropping the match in four frames. (17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20).
In the first set, Maryland held the Big Ten’s top-hitting team to just a .133 attacking clip and nine kills. Outside hitter Erika Pritchard recorded her 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 16 kills and 18 digs. Setter Nicole Alford also had a double-double, her fifth, with 43 assists and 11 digs.
“It started in our warmup,” Alford said. “We were thinking, ‘Hey, we’re going to take this match. We’re not going to go in and see what happens, we’re going to go and we’re going to take it.’”
Alford spread the ball around well for the Terps, with four players registering double-digit kills.
“You have to have people going from all different angles to keep them on their toes,” outside hitter Liz Twilley (11 kills) said. “So it was really big for us.”
The Terps continued their momentum to start the second set, running out to a 14-8 lead. But Minnesota corrected itself, snapping off seven straight points to take the lead and ending the set on a 5-0 run to tie the match.
The third set was much more competitive. While the Terps had runs of four and five straight points during the frame, the Golden Gophers proved to me too much to handle, eking out the set, 25-23.
After its abysmal first set, Minnesota righted the ship on offense, ending the match with a .209 hitting percentage. The Gophers’ offense was led by outside hitter Adanna Rollins, who finished the match with 19 kills.
“She was beating us from different locations,” coach Adam Hughes said. “She’s one of the top recruits as a freshman and it showed, she’s a really special player.”
Maryland got off to a roaring start in the fourth set, scoring five of the first six points and forcing Minnesota to use its first timeout. Off the stoppage, the Gophers scored seven of the next eight points before pulling away to take the set, 25-20, and finish off the match.
“Our kids played extremely hard and gave ourselves a window and they had a lot of belief tonight,” Hughes said. “We’re really disappointed that we weren’t able to pull out that third or extend the match. … But, at the same time, I think there are some positives to take away.”