By: Sean Montiel
After sweeping the Maryland Invitational, the Terps came into the Liberty Invitational with a 3-0 record. There, they found a similar fate. Maryland swept their three matches against Liberty, Elon, and Furman to improve to 6-0 on the season.
What stood out about Maryland’s success this weekend, and this entire season to date, has been the numerous contributions from a multitude of players.
Maryland’s first match of the tournament was Friday against the Liberty Flames. Maryland disposed of them easily, winning in straight sets 25-21, 25-15 and 25-16. In the first set, the Terps came out to a lead early before the Flames tied things up at 12.
After a large run on Kelsey Wicinski’s serve, Hailey Murray shut the door and closed out the first set. The Flames didn’t threaten at all the rest of the night, as Maryland won handily in the next sets.
Maryland found themselves against a more formidable opponent in the Elon Phoenix early Saturday morning. After blowing the doors off in the first set, winning 25-11, they saw Elon fight back and take the second set home 25-23.
After some wild back and forth, Maryland pulled ahead to win 25-21 in the third set. Down five points late in the fourth set, the Terps then scored 12 unanswered to take a 24-17 lead and eventually a 25-19 victory to win the match 3-1.
The third and final opponent of the Liberty Invitational, the Furman Paladins, proved no match for these Terps just like the others. The first two sets were dominated by Maryland, who won them 25-15 and 25-17.
Coming out of the halftime break, Furman took advantage of sloppy play by the Terps to steal the third set 25-18. However, the Phoenix quieted in the fourth, as Maryland won the final set 25-14 to win the match 3-1.
As a nod to head coach Steve Aird’s fantastic recruiting classes, this Maryland team continues to be led by underclassmen. Freshman Erika Pritchard, PrepVolleyball’s No. 29 recruit, was terrific, posting 40 kills across the three matches. She also put up seven service aces in the third set of the second match, helping Maryland take home the W.
Not to be outdone by Pritchard, sophomore Gia Milana continued to be a key piece both offensively and defensively. In addition to providing the Terps attack with 36 kills, she also had 28 digs.
Having a dominant attacker in Pritchard, a terrific two-way player in Milana and great defensive leadership by Kelsey Wicinski (65 digs), you have yourself a very good volleyball team. Other important contributions came from freshman Samantha Drechsel (team-high 13 kills vs Furman), sophomore Samantha Snyder (66 assists) and redshirt freshman Taylor Smith (22 assists and 12 digs vs Liberty)
Going forward, Maryland heads to Huntington, West Virginia for the Thunder Invite. There, it’ll test its perfect record against the hosting Marshall Thundering Herd (2-5), as well as the Toledo Rockets (2-3) and Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1).