Maryland’s winning streak came to an end, as No. 13 Penn State beat the Terps in four sets.
The Nittany Lions came into the matchup riding high after winning a thrilling five-set match against Iowa. Penn State has been a dominant this year, starting their season 12-0.
The Terps have been playing their best volleyball as of late, stringing together three straight wins. The biggest win of the win streak came in Indiana, where the Terps swept the Purdue Boilermakers, pulling off an incredible upset. During this three-game winning streak, Maryland has won the first set each time, making the start of the game a crucial benchmark for success.
The first set was a close, tight battle throughout. Both teams traded point after point, which resulted in 10 ties. The teams were knotted up at 20, making it a five-point sprint for the win. That sprint was won by the Nittany Lions, as they ended the set on a 3-0 scoring run to win set one, 25-22.
The Terps looked settled in at the start of set two as they got out to an early lead via a 4-0 scoring run.
“I think we came together. We said, okay, we’re down 0-1. How are we going to respond? Are we just going to roll over, or are we going to come back out and win with heart? So I think everybody’s mindset changed, and we went out there, and we started early, and then we got it rolling,” said Gomillion.
They held that lead throughout the set until they faced trouble late. Two Penn State scoring runs tied the score at 23, and it looked like all of Maryland’s momentum had disappeared.
On the next serve, Penn State hit a service error, bringing it to set point for Maryland. Anastasia Russ put an emphatic end to the set, slamming down her fourth kill and winning set two for Maryland, 25-23.
The two sets were night and day for the Terps on offense. In the first set, they had no rhythm hitting at a .083 percentage and only registering seven kills. In the second set, they came out and registered 14 kills and raised their hitting percentage to the .200s.
“We were handling the ball a lot better,” Hughes said. “I thought [Jones] did a good job in two or three key moments there for us,”
Penn State grabbed complete control coming out of intermission. The Nittany Lions earned a commanding 9-3 lead and didn’t relinquish it.
Maryland tried to fight back with two separate 3-0 scoring runs that cut into the Penn State lead, but it was all for not. Penn State won the set 25-21, bringing up a win-or-go-home set four for the Terps.
The Nittany Lions grabbed an early lead in set four via a 4-0 scoring run that brought the score to 10-6. The Terps looked determined after they fell behind, quickly scoring three straight to get themselves right back in it.
Maryland battled all the way back to tie Penn State at 19, but it didn’t amount to a set win. Penn State scored six of the last nine points to earn the set victory and win the match 3-1.
Maryland struggled all night to contend with a high-powered Penn State offensive that featured three players with double digit kills. One of those three was Zoe Weatherington, who Hughes said the Terps struggled to handle.
“The matchup that probably hurt us the most was Weatherington; she did a good job moving around,” Hughes said. As coaches, we did not find an answer.”
Holland registered 13 of Penn State’s 62 kills, the second most the Terps have given up all season.
It was not an awful night for the Terps’ offense, which registered 41 kills for their fourth straight game. The offense also hit at a respectable .222 percent for the match.
Offensive issues came in the number of attacks the Terps had. Maryland logged 30 fewer opportunities than the Nittany Lions, who had 138 total attacks.
“Realistically, we had 108 swings, they had 138 swings, and you’re gonna lose a matchup like that,” Hughes said.
With the loss tonight, Hughes is now 0-6 against Penn State since becoming Maryland’s head coach..
This will be tough to put behind them, but Gomillion believes they need to leave this in the past.
“Let the past be the past because we can’t go back and change it. But we have a new opportunity tomorrow against Northwestern. So, I think everybody resetting and changing their mindset. We lost this, but you know tomorrow’s a new opportunity that we can go get,” said Gomillion.
Maryland will try and get their 13th win of the season against a Northwestern, team they swept just a week ago.