Maryland volleyball did the improbable, beating the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes in four sets.
The Terps came into this one struggling against some of the best in the Big Ten. The team suffered two straight losses against No. 9 Minnesota and No. 3 Wisconsin, both losses coming on the road. In that stretch Maryland did not win a set, losing both matches by a sweep.
The Terps came out strong in the first set holding their own with the fifth-best team in the country. After an early timeout from head coach Adam Hughes, Maryland earned four of the next five points to cut the Buckeye lead to three.
From there, the two traded points with one another, and Maryland went on a run. The Buckeyes quickly answered the Maryland run, scoring five straight to win the set, 25-16.
The Terps started the second set off on a better note using a 4-0 scoring run to earn a 7-4 lead to start the set. Maryland held that lead throughout fighting off an Ohio State team that slowly started to climb back.
The dagger came when Maryland went on an 8-0 scoring run that erupted the pavilion crowd, a factor that helped propel the Terps to a set win.
“The atmosphere in that gym was amazing. And you know, you have everyone there behind your back and got your back,” said Junior Sam Csire.
The Terps looked unstoppable from there, winning the second set easily, 25-15.
The Terps didn’t lose any momentum or energy coming out of intermission. They secured the first two points of the set and took off from there, earning an early 10-6 lead. However, Ohio State wouldn’t go away.
The Buckeyes matched Maryland’s run with one of their own later in the set to cut the Maryland lead to just two. That’s when Anastasia Russ took over. She had one kill and two blocks in the last seven points to propel Maryland to a set three victory, 25-18.
Going into the fourth set, the Terps could feel the tension and excitement in the Pavilion. Csire said the message going into the fourth was to finish.
“We were all just like, let’s just win this please. Yeah, we’re done with five-setters. We haven’t had the best luck with them. Let’s just finish it,” said Csire.
The Terps did just that.
They started the fourth set on a 7-0 scoring run that put them up by six early. Head coach Adam Hughes said that the start made all the difference.
“It was really important we got off to that five one or six one run at the beginning of the fourth with Milan [Gomillion] from the end line. At Least gives you a little bit of a cushion, and then you can stay confident, but your kind of in the driver’s seat. We never let up after that,” said Hughes.
The Terps took a 21-17 lead into the back half of the set and everyone in the Xfinity Pavilion was on the edge of their seat.
Laila Ivey landed her eighth kill of the match, and immediately it was matched by an emphatic slam from Gabby Gonzales. Then Ohio State committed two attack errors to set up a match point for the Terps.
On that last point, Erin Morrissey’s serve came to the Terps’ side, and it seemed as though a long rally would ensue. That’s when the whistle blew, play stopped, and Maryland had achieved the upset. The call was a bad set by Ohio State.
When the Maryland players recognized the call, the team rushed to the court, jumping and celebrating their second victory against a top-five-ranked opponent in program history.
A big reason for the win was the play of Csire. Csire racked up 21 kills in the match which was a season-high for her. She hit .275%, and when she was called upon to make an important, swing she delivered.
“I know I’ve had kind of issues in the past with big games. And performing, but that’s all in the past,” said Csire. “I kind of went into this saying hey, I mean, it made it better this was my home state too that I’ve beaten, but I went into it and Hughes before the game was like, let it go be free. And so that’s kind of what I did.”
The defense also had an amazing night blocking 17 balls at the net. The block’s leader was Russ who had 11 to go along with her seven kills. Hughes said that her impact on the net provided some much-appreciated energy.
“Yeah, I mean, some of the blocks Stasia [Anastasia Russ] had been pretty nasty, to be honest with you. And those are energizing a lot of ways,” said Hughes. “You know, I think one of the things that when we are able to block like that we divert some shots and you could see some people thinking about where they had to try to change, change locations.”
Maryland will try to take these good vibes and channel them into momentum going into their next match. That next match comes tomorrow night against the 15-12 Michigan Wolverines.