By Nolan Demott
The last time the Maryland Terrapins were at home, they pulled off a dramatic five set win over Ohio State. Since then, Maryland has dropped two games on the road against Ohio State and Purdue.
The Terps hosted No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday at the Xfinity Center. When the two teams met earlier this season, Maryland lost in straight sets (25-13, 25-14, 25-12). This time in College Park, the Terps were thoroughly outplayed. Despite scoring at least 15 points in all three sets, Maryland, again, lost in straight sets (25-16, 25-19, 25-22).
Errors were the Terps’ biggest obstacle Sunday. Maryland had as many errors (10) as they had kills in the first set. Freshman hitter Gia Milana struggled, committing five of the team’s errors. Maryland finished the evening with 24 errors and 37 kills.
“[Minnisota is] a really elite blocking team, so there is not a lot of open court. When you do hit past the block, they are elite in defending,” coach Steve Aird said. “When you play really good teams, they don’t let you just be OK. A lot of the balls we hit tonight might score against lesser teams, but they don’t score against a Final Four team.”
In set two, the Terps had a better attacking performance, but the Gophers’ offense also came alive. Minnesota finished the set with 15 kills and only four errors. More impressively, the Minnesota attack was balanced equally among four players, who each had at least three kills. In fact, Minnesota managed to have four players with at least seven kills by the end of the match, a number that impressed coach Aird.
Maryland came out on fire in the third set, and took a 9-6 lead that caused Minnesota to call timeout. Unfortunately for the Terps, after the Minnesota timeout the tables turned once again and the Gophers went on a 14-5 run of their own.
Maryland is (10-16) on the season with the schedule dwindling. The Terps have six games remaining with their next match Friday at 8 p.m. against Penn State in the Xfinity Center.