By: Sununu Bah
The Maryland Terrapins were looking forward to building on their dominating first Big Ten win against Rutgers on Saturday. The Terrapins hosted the No. 19 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a rocking Xfinity Center Pavilion. The last time the two teams played, Maryland swept the Buckeyes. The Terrapins knew the Buckeyes were hungry and searching for revenge.
“We knew that after beating them 3-0 last year, that they were going to come with a fire and really fight hard,” Liz Twilley said.
In the first set, the Buckeyes committed six attack errors in the early going but were able to keep the game close throughout the first set. The Buckeyes capitalized on three straight points midway through the first set but resorted back to committing more errors to give the Terrapins the lead. The Terps didn’t shy away and made sure to capitalize on the opportunities giving to them by the Buckeyes, taking the first set, 25-21. The Buckeyes committed 16 total errors in the first set.
In the second set, the Terps fought battled from an early 6-3 deficit by going on huge 12-3 run to take a 15-9 lead. The Buckeyes were able to recover though by going on a run of their own, scoring six straight points to even the game up at 15 apiece. The two teams proceed to trade blows for the rest, with seven lead changes before the Buckeyes pulled away to take the set, 25-22. There were 10 ties and four lead changes in the second set.
Through the first two sets, the Terps’ star freshman, Gia Milana was struggling mightily with only four kills and five digs.
The third set featured an exciting finish that, unfortunately for the Terps, resulted in a Buckeyes win. Down 20-17, the Terps toughened up their defense to score three straight points to tie the game up and stopped a potential set clinching run by the Buckeyes. That’s not all however, with Ohio State up 24-22, the Terrapins prevented back-to-back set clinching opportunities and tied it up. Milana had her first kill of the set in a big time fashion, giving the Terrapins a 26-25 lead. Maryland had two set clinching opportunities but the Buckeyes fought back with two huge kills. to go up one. But Milana’s second kill of the set tied the set up once again. Taylor Smith’s ace gave the Terrapins a 28-27 lead but Milana cost Maryland with a critical attack error to tie the game at 28 apiece. Ohio State capitalized with back-to-back kills and an unfortunate service ace that gave the Buckeyes the set, 30-28.
The Terps came out in the fourth set to claw their way back in the game. They started the set off with a scorching 9-3 run and didn’t ease up. They kept their foot on the gas throughout the set and took the set 25-19 to tie the match. Liz Twilley added three kills and three blocks to her total.
“I was really proud of their battle,” coach Aird said. “Gia had a couple of swings to win game three. A team that isn’t getting mentally tougher, rolls over in the fourth. They came out in the fourth, there was no quit in them. They played really hard [and] we competed.”
The Terrapins had a few tough fifth set losses to Towson, Illinois, and Michigan this season. Things were different this time around.The Terrapins stood their ground and made sure to close things out. Taylor Smith’s block gave them them upset win over the Buckeyes (25-21, 22-25, 28, 30, 25-19, 15-12).
“After those tough losses, coach always talks about you got to learn those lessons, you got to be experienced,” said Smith. “Now that we’ve had those experiences, this was our game.”
Although Milana had struggled the entire match, the team stepped up and had a balanced game. Twilley had a huge night with 13 kills, and career highs in digs, serve, and blocks, six, on the match. Smith added seven kills and 48 assists. Six players had over 10 points on the match.
“Gia has carried us the whole season but it’s a part of being a team that if one player is not feeling their best or playing their best, everyone steps up,” said Twilley. “It’s only fair that we did it for Gia because she has been great all season and she’s so supportive and happy for everyone else. It was really a great team effort and we all came together and we wanted it so bad.”
The Terps and the Buckeyes will rematch on Friday night in Columbus in what is sure to be a competitive game.