Maryland volleyball can’t overcome Penn State, defeated in four sets

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland lost against the  No. 15 Penn State in four sets. 

This was the final game of a three-game road trip. Maryland is 1-1 on the road trip beating Iowa in four sets and then getting swept by Nebraska.

The Nittany Lions come into the matchup on a two-game losing streak. Penn State lost in four sets to Illinois and lost in five sets against No. 6 Ohio State.

The last time they played, it ended in a victory for Penn State. That victory snapped a three-game winning streak for Maryland. The Terps produced 15 blocks in that matchup but allowed four Penn State players to have double-digit kills.

This matchup would prove even harder than the one prior. Before the start of play, Rainelle Jones and Laila Ricks were both ruled out with injuries, thrusting Ellie Watson and Gem Grimshaw into the starting lineup. 

Watson took advantage of her opportunity quickly, tallying three kills to start the set. Those three kills helped Maryland fight back from a large Penn State lead, which they accumulated early in the set. The Terps strung together two separate 3-0 scoring runs to tie the score at 18 all.

Anastasia Russ made a huge block that gave Maryland the lead. The Terps couldn’t continue that momentum committing two consecutive service errors. The Nittany Lions ended the set on a 3-0 scoring run, winning 25-21. 

The Terps continued to be scrappy in the second set, tying the score quickly after every Penn State lead. The Nittany Lions didn’t earn separation in the match until a 4-0 scoring run propelled them to an 18-11 lead. Penn State won the set, 25-20.

Maryland played well despite being down two of their better players. The one aspect of their game that held them back was the number of errors they committed. The Terps had 19 combined errors in the first two sets, six of them service errors.

Maryland did a good job controlling the errors in the third set, and by doing so, they grabbed the momentum. The two teams were trading the lead for the first part of the set, but after back-to-back kills by Ellie Watson, the Terps never trailed, forcing a fourth set.

Set four displayed more of the same, with both teams trading points. Maryland would not go away, keeping the score close and tying the score multiple times. The Terps went on to eventually earn a lead, but it wouldn’t last.

The Nittany Lions ended the fourth set on a 3-0 scoring run that won them the set and the match. Penn State has now won 24 consecutive matches against Maryland, dating back to 1984.

This was a gutsy performance by Maryland, playing without two of the best blockers in the Big Ten. The Terps kept every set close, and their energy never wavered throughout the match. 

Despite the loss, Csire had a bounce-back performance on the offensive end. She led the team with 15 kills and had a hitting percentage in the low .200s.

Maryland also got contributions from Ellie Watson and Gem Grimshaw, who were thrown into the starting lineup. Grimshaw ended the night with eight kills and added three blocks, while Watson had six kills and three blocks of her own. 

Maryland will return home on Sunday for the first time since October 22 to take on an Iowa team that they beat to start the road trip.