Terps come up just short in a 5-set Thriller Battle with Iowa

By Jonathan Spadafino

The Maryland Terrapins (9-21, 2-17 Big Ten) played arguably one of their best games of the year on Wednesday against the Iowa Hawkeyes (14-16, 6-13). Middle blocker Hailey Murray had a career day with 14 kills and senior outside hitter Ashleigh Crutcher had 20 kills to make this the 5th time this season she has reached that mark.

Numerous Terps had a big day in a total team effort against the Hawkeyes. However, at the end of the day, team errors for the Terrapins, and some fantastic play from Iowa’s sophomore outside hitter Lauren Brobst, was too much to handle for the Maryland volleyball team as Iowa won in five sets (18-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-25, 15-17).

Some careless mistakes gave Iowa an early lead in the first set before some great play from Chavi St. Hill and Murray brought the Terrapins within three. Crutcher and sophomore middle blocker Ashlyn MacGregor each had some big kills as the Terps continuously tried to claw there way back in after the Hawkeyes got out to a 17-11 lead. The occasional great play by a Terp was not enough however as Iowa took the first set by a score of 25-18.

The second set was a completely new Terrapins team as their errors from the first set did not follow them into the second set. Maryland combined for 15 kills as a team compared to just one error, which allowed them to jump out to an early lead before the Hawkeyes scored four straight points to tie the game at 10. After a few blocks from the Terrapins, a forceful kill from St. Hill paired with a perfectly placed kill by Crutcher gave the Terps a 17-12 lead that would not be taken away as Maryland took the second set 25-18.

The Terps carried their energy from their big second set win into the third set as they raced out to an early 12-4 lead behind three kills from Murray and two straight service aces from MacGregor. Junior outside hitter Emily Fraik added a couple of critical kills and another service ace from MacGregor fueled a 21-14 Terp lead. After two more kills from standout Murray, Crutcher finished off a kill that would give the Terps a 25-15 third set victory.

Maryland’s continued energy was put to an abrupt start at the begging of the fourth set as Brobst finished off five straight kills to give Iowa an early 6-1 lead in a must win set for them. Those errors that plagued the Terps in the first set came back to haunt them in the fourth as well as Iowa was in control throughout the entire fourth set. Despite a little bit of late energy shown by the Terrapins, Iowa took the set 25-15 to tie the game at two sets apiece and send the match into a deciding fifth set.

The fifth set was a fiery, back and forth battle that saw both teams trade leads. It had looked as though the Terrapins might pull away when they took an 8-5 lead behind another Crutcher kill. However, Iowa stormed back to tie things up at 10 before taking a 13-12 lead. Crutcher then stepped up with two clutch points to tie the game at 13, and then at again at 14 as Maryland stood their ground against a Hawkeye match point. Iowa then took another lead at 15-14 before Fraik finished off one of her seven kills to tie the match at 15. A critical service error gave Iowa another lead, and the Hawkeyes wouldn’t let this slip away as they finished off the set 17-15, thus giving them the victory.

Sophomore setter Carlotta Oggioni was another Terp who had a fantastic game as she led Maryland with 22 assists. The Terrapins close out their season against Northwestern (16-13, 6-12) this Saturday at the Xfinity Center Pavilion at 7 p.m.

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