Maryland volleyball swept by Northwestern

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland Volleyball lost on homecoming night against the Northwestern Wildcats in a three-set sweep. 

This was the second meeting between the two teams this season, the first being a dominant 3-0 victory for the Terps. Maryland’s defense played a huge role in that victory, holding Northwestern outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara to her lowest hitting percentage of the season.

Since their matchup on October 14, the Wildcats have gone 1-1, beating Rutgers and losing to No. 3 Wisconsin. Maryland has also gone 1-1 in that time span, upsetting then No. 9 Purdue and losing to No.13 Penn State.

Maryland’s defense came out on fire, registering two blocks within the first eight points of set one. The Terps led most of the set fending off two Northwestern scoring runs.

The Terps couldn’t hold off the Wildcats forever. Northwestern went on one final 3-0 scoring run that allowed them to take a 20-19 lead that would turn into a 25-23 set victory. 

Today marked the second time this weekend that the Terps failed to start the match with a victory.

“I think we just need to work on bringing intensity from the start. I felt like the energy wasn’t the same as it was when we were on the road. So just working on that, moving forward, I think will help us a lot,” said Russ. 

The Wildcats didn’t rest on their first set momentum, going on a 5-0 scoring run that earned them a four-point lead early in set two. Northwestern held the lead and the momentum throughout the set until the Terps subbed in setter Erin Engel. 

Engel made a huge playmaking multiple efforts to dig out a ball and diving to keep another ball alive. Her hustle led to a Sam Csire kill that cut the Northwestern lead to five. 

Engel’s energy wasn’t enough as Northwestern went on to win the set, 25-20.

Maryland struggled in the first two sets to keep Thomas-Ailara in check. She had 12 kills in the first two sets, which was two more than the whole match on October 14. 

“Today I thought [Thomas-Ailara] was doing a little bit more of what she normally does, you know, and she did that against Rutgers Friday night, so we knew that would be the case, you know, she’s gonna take in some big hacks,” said head coach Adam Hughes. 

The Terps started set three behind 4-1, but Maryland quickly fought back with a 3-0 scoring run to tie it at four. The teams traded points until a Sam Csire attack error sparked a 4-0 scoring run for the Wildcats, giving them a four-point cushion. 

That cushion only increased as nothing the Terps tried could slow down the Wildcat’s attack. Northwestern went on to win the set, 25-20 and sweep Maryland. This was only the second time this season Maryland had been swept.

This match was a major struggle for the Terps’ defense despite them blocking 12 balls. Maryland allowed Northwestern’s Kathryn Randorf and Temi Thomas-Ailara to combine for 30 of Northwestern’s 49 kills, both hitting above a .340 percentage.

“ I thought a big difference was they were fighting hands better than we were., They were skimming balls off the top. We got beat in that category,” said Hughes. 

Maryland’s offense struggled, with only Csire registering double-digit kills. Maryland, as a team, hit only 37 kills and had a .173 hitting percentage. 

This match wraps up a weekend in which Maryland won just one set out of the seven they played. The loss also extends the Terps’ home losing streak to seven games.

Maryland’s record now falls to 12-10 and 3-7 in conference play. The Terps will head out on the road where they are 6-1 this season. 

Their next match will be against the 7-14 Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday night.