By Lila Bromberg
The Maryland Terrapins swept the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 3-0 in a tightly contested match Friday. The team now boasts 13 wins on the season, surpassing its entire total from 2016.
Maryland entered the game after a disappointing Big Ten road trip. While it won its first match against Indiana 3-0, it lost to Michigan State 3-0 and Michigan 3-1 to end the trip. The Terps entered Friday’s play at 12-4 and a mere 1-3 in conference play.
Rutgers came in ranked even lower in the Big Ten with an 0-4 record in conference and an overall record of 5-11.
Maryland had the first point of set, but Rutgers went on to take a 7-3 lead. The Terrapins fought their way back, eventually tying the game at eight and then taking the lead. The set remained close for a few points before Maryland ran away with the lead. Its advantage extended to 18-13 during the second half of the set, giving Maryland the set win 25-18 on a kill by Gia Milana.
Maryland started the second set off sluggish, falling into a 6-1 deficit early, forcing Coach Steve Aird to call a timeout. After trailing for the entire first half Maryland tied up the set 16-16. The second half of the set remained neck and neck with the Terrapins having a slight advantage. Milana sealed the set 25-22 on a kill.
Maryland started the third set 1-0 off a kill from senior Hailey Murray. From there Maryland and Rutgers exchanged points back and forth with neither team taking control for the first half of the set. The Terrapins took ownership of the second half of the set, turning a 13-12 lead into a run to eventually close the set and match 25-17.
Despite the win, head coach Steve Aird was not impressed with his team’s performance, particularly with the high number of errors. Maryland had eight errors in the first set, 10 errors in the second and three in the third.
“I think we played a really sloppy match for the entire match,” he said. “I thought we struggled a lot with some basic stuff tonight that I think is going to be a challenge. We’re not going to be able to do that against big teams and win, we’ll get thrashed.”
Murray, who had five kills and .40 percentage for the night, says that having so many errors and still taking the match says a lot about the strength of their team.
“It’s another win on our record that was important for us, especially if we have any aspirations of doing anything in the postseason,” Murray said said. “It’s important that we got that win down and didn’t let the errors stop us and let this be a match that got away.”
The Terrapins face a challenging next match Saturday as they take on No. 3 ranked Penn State (3-1 in conference, 13-1 overall).
Looking forward, Aird says his team has to fine-tune its play.
“I’ve got to get the team better and get them more comfortable and understanding things and playing with low errors. So a lot of it I think comes back to the staff and I, we’ve just got to do a better job.”