It is not often a team out-blocks Maryland and it’s certainly not often Maryland fails to put up a single block for a match.
Heading into the match, Maryland senior middle blocker Rainelle Jones led the nation in blocks per set among teams and players, respectively. Michigan made it a plan to avoid the dangerous defense as much as they could.
“One of the coaches said that they’re completely avoiding us,” said Jones, who had an uncharacteristic two kills and zero blocks off a -.100 hitting percentage.
Michigan swept the Terps at Ann Arbor several weeks prior. This match gave Michigan a perfect 6-0 record against Maryland.
Sam Csire’s three early attack errors set the stage for a Maryland first set embarrassment. Michigan easily won 25-13.
“I thought we started slow. [We] probably gave [Michigan] a lot of confidence,” head coach Adam Hughes said. “The next thing you know, you’re playing from behind against really good teams.”
Maryland played sloppy with nine attack errors in the first set compared to Michigan’s one. Maryland’s hitting percentage was also -.061.
The second set started differently with both teams battling back and forth, but eventually the same result occurred. Michigan closed out the set on a 18-7 run, this time winning 25-14 and taking a 2-0 lead.
Maryland hit the ball better with less errors and a higher hitting percentage, but Michigan was still the superior team. They again had only one attack error. Additionally, they rocked a vigorous .562 hitting percentage.
Much like how they performed against Purdue, the Terps got better as the match progressed. The third series they found themselves up by five points near the halfway point. Michigan started to close the gap soon after.
The Terps celebrated, thinking they secured a point. When it was declared that someone in white had touched it, giving Michigan a game-tying point, the crowd turned rowdy. A visibly furious Hughes let the referee know about it.
“I trust our kids,” said Hughes. “Both of them said they didn’t touch it.”
The play was challenged, but was upheld with a lack of evidence to overturn the call.
“I’m not going to try and get myself in trouble but I thought it was a really bad call,” said Hughes.
Hughes received a yellow card as he continued to dispute with the ref after the call stood.
“I’ve never seen him like that before,” said Rainelle Jones. “It was pretty cool. I feel like that definitely gave us all some energy from it.”
The Maryland squad might have been fired up, but they were still no match for the talented Michigan side. The Wolverines won the final set 25-22, cementing the sweep.
Michigan took advantage of the call en route to a 25-22 comeback victory. This marked the second time Michigan has swept Maryland this season.
Maryland has another tough match ahead of them on Friday as they face ninth ranked Nebraska.
“We’re going to have our hands full in front of a sold-out crowd in Nebraska,” said Coach Hughes. “We’ll have to have a good week of practice. We know we’re going to have to do a lot better than we were today.”