By: Nolan DeMott
On Friday night, the University of Maryland Terrapins (8-10) took on the Iowa Hawkeyes (14-4), trying to pick up their first win against a Big 10 opponent. The Terps came in having lost their first six Big 10 matches of the season including a road match a few weeks ago versus the same Hawkeye team. The Terrapins lost, once again, in straight sets (25-23, 26-24, 25-19). However, Maryland Head Coach Steve Aird pointed out how different the circumstances were last time out.
“I thought when we played there we were never in the match,” said Aird. “It was one of those tings where you didn’t feel comfortable. It was our 12th straight match on the road…and we had just one day to prep [for the next match].”
In terms of this match, set one was back and forth the whole way with 13 tie scores and six lead-changes. It was 23-23 late in the set, but the Terps surrendered the final two points to drop the set 25-23. This first set was eerily similar to the one in their previous match vs. Iowa. And, in general, losing close sets has been a theme for the Terps all season. Out of 14 sets decided by two points, Maryland has only won four. Following the match, Coach Aird addressed his team’s failure to finish off the tight set.
“They had two upperclassmen who made plays and we have two underclassmen who didn’t,” said Aird. “We were in those first two sets I thought and had opportunities, but they just made two or three plays at the end of the game, which is why they are where they are right now.”
Unfortunately, set number two held a similar fate for the Terrapins, who were ahead most of the set only to lose another close one 26-24. This set was particularly disappointing for the Terps considering that they had a lead for most of the set. In fact, they had a 19-17 lead at the tail end of the set.
In the third, Maryland was behind virtually the entire set and had to heavily rely on Gia Milana to provide the team’s kills. She had eight of the team’s eleven kills in the set, which Maryland lost 25-19. Milana not only had an active third set, though; she had possibly her most impressive offensive performance of her freshman campaign, recording 20 kills with only five errors. Coach Aird praised Milana’s performance saying, “She is the highest touted recruit in the history of the program…and [she] is obviously living up to her billing.”
The Terrapins have now lost their first seven games within their conference, and it won’t be any easier in their next match this Sunday when they take on Nebraska, the #2 ranked team in the country.