By: Nolan DeMott
On Friday night, the University of Maryland Terrapins (8-8) took on the #23 seeded Michigan Wolverines (13-3) in their fifth Big 10 match of the season. The Terrapins came into the match having lost their previous four matches, and unfortunately for the Terps, tonight was no different. Maryland suffered another loss in the Big 10 and their sixth straight defeat overall in four sets (27-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21).
In the first set, the Terrapins had a chance to seize the early momentum. After falling behind 24-22, the Terps saved two set points. Unfortunately, they could not finish off the comeback, falling 27-25 in set one. In the set, Maryland converted 61% of their side-out chances—their highest percentage of the match—but it was not enough to get the job done. Set two provided Maryland another opportunity to climb back into the match. They grabbed a 13-11 lead in the middle of that set before losing 14 of the next 19 points to drop set two 25-18. Then, after winning set three, the Terrapins were on their way to forcing a deciding set for the second straight match, up 13-7 in the fourth. But after losing 18 of the final 26 points, Maryland’s chances had run out.
In terms of key performers for the Terps, freshman Gia Milana led the team in kills with 16 but also made 11 errors, making it a performance certainly not on par with her previous one at home last Sunday. On the defensive side, Angel Gaskin had two solo blocks as well as five other assisted blocks. In fact, the Terrapins as a team actually out-blocked the Wolverine squad by a wide margin (15-6).
These past six matches have been difficult for this young Maryland team. However, while the Terps have consistently come up short, they have been doing so against elite competition. In fact, Friday night marked the fifth time in the last sixth matches that Maryland has gone up against a Top 25 team. And each time, they have been taking massive strides forward. In the last game vs. Illinois, a team ranked 24th at the time, the Terps had a clear opportunity to win the match, sending it to five sets and even having a match point. The Terrapins, at the very least, did manage to pull out a set and had several opportunities to change the course of the match. So despite losing, because the Terps managed to take one set on the road for the first time this year in Big 10 play, their performance could still be looked at from a positive angle. Their next test comes tomorrow night, 150 miles south, against Michigan State.