Maryland downed by No. 5 Nebraska for the second time this season

Maryland volleyball
Maryland volleyball
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By: Lila Bromberg

Maryland was swept 3-0 by No. 5 Nebraska on Saturday night, bringing its record to 17-13 overall and 6-12 in the Big Ten.   

Nebraska came into the match with a 23-4 overall record and 15-1 Big Ten record. The Cornhuskers swept Maryland 3-0 (25-11, 25-15, 25-16) earlier this season.

The Terrapins held up better than expected in the first set, much in part to Nebraska not playing to its full potential. Nebraska had the lead for most of the first half of the set, but Maryland managed to tie the game and even take a 15-14 lead at one point.

It didn’t last long, but the Terrapins stayed in the game and made winning the set a challenge for the Cornhuskers. Maryland kept it close towards the end of the set and fought their way back to only be down 23-24 on a service ace by freshman Samantha Drechsel. Still, they lost the set 23-25.

While Maryland never got a lead of its own, it was on the heels of Nebraska for the first half of the second set.

Things took a turn once the Cornhuskers extended their lead past five points for the first time at 14-20. The Terrapins could not bring the game any closer as they had before and lost the set 18-25.

Maryland faltered greatly in the third set as Nebraska was fully back to their normal level of play.  Down by two sets, the Terrapins seemed to give up any chance of winning the match, which was further instilled by the loud roars of a packed Nebraska fan section.

The Terrapins were quickly down 7-14 and couldn’t get anywhere near the Cornhuskers’ lead for the rest of the set. They lost the set and match 13-25.

“As the match develops really good teams start to take away things and change their approach, it’s what good teams do,” head coach Steve Aird said. “They were not very good in game one, they will probably tell you in game two they were a little bit better and in game three they were really really good.”

And it shows in both the hitting percentages and kills. The third set saw Maryland’s worst percentage of the match at -.069 percent and just seven kills, compared to .367 percent and 15 kills in the first and a measly .036 percent and ten kills in the second.

Aird isn’t upset with his team, he said he simply did not prepare the team enough due to focusing on last night’s Iowa game.

“I think it’s not the kids’ fault. I think the kids battled and they work hard and they play hard and they’ll learn the lessons as they go, but I think the majority of the blame is on me, not them,” Aird said. “I spent four or five days on Iowa, I didn’t do a great job of preparing my team for Nebraska and didn’t spend enough time on it to get them going.”

“We all know we could have done better and all that stuff and we just need to be better for Ohio State,” freshman Jada Gardner said.

Maryland will face Ohio State at Xfinity Center Pavilion on Nov. 22, with hopes to get another win on the record to further their tournament chances. They fell 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-16) to the Buckeyes on Sep. 20.

The Terrapins haven’t lost to any team that isn’t in the top-ten ranking this season and Aird plans to maintain that.

“I couldn’t be more excited for this week,” Aird said.  “You’ve got to have a really short memory in this conference and we’ve got two opportunities this week to add to the win column against really good teams…This is a great team, they’ll bounce back.