Maryland volleyball starts strong, falls apart against Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland volleyball lost against the Michigan Wolverines in four sets on senior night.

Maryland honored seniors Gem Grimshaw, Maddie Naumann, Lexy Finnerty, and Rainelle Jones with a pregame ceremony. A ceremony that Finnerty said meant a lot.

“I have my whole family here, and it was fun celebrating with all the girls. I mean, I’ve been waiting for four years to do something like that. And so, it was really cool,” said Finnerty. 

The Terps came into this matchup on the highest of highs beating No. 5 Ohio State in four sets. The win was the program’s second all-time against a top-five opponent. It was also the biggest win of the year.

The Terps hoped the momentum would carry over into the first set against the Wolverines. They got out to a slow start falling behind 6-2. The Terps quickly answered with a 3-0 scoring run and then built on their success with another scoring run to take the lead.

Maryland held the lead until two scoring runs by Michigan put the Wolverines in front, 24-23. Anastasia Russ slammed down two balls to give Maryland the lead, 25-24. Michigan didn’t want it to end and they rattled off two points to retake the one-point lead.

Then Maryland ended the match with a 3-0 scoring run, getting kills from Sam Csire, Laila Ivey, and Russ. The Terps won the set 28-26.

Michigan started set two in complete control earning a six-point lead early. The Wolverines held the lead through most of the set until two separate scoring runs for Maryland cut the lead to one. Russ tied the score with her eighth kill of the match, putting the two teams back to even.

Maryland couldn’t grab the momentum, allowing a 4-0 scoring run to Michigan. The Terps just couldn’t recover from there, losing the set 25-22.

Coming out of intermission, both teams traded points back and forth. Within the first 10 points, the lead changed hands five times. That changed when Maryland went on a 4-0 scoring run to earn a 14-9 lead. 

The Wolverines slowly climbed back in the match and eventually struck with a 5-0 scoring run that flipped the lead to their side, 22-20. The Terps answered, tying the score at 23, but that’s all the points they could muster. 

Michigan’s Maddie Dowd dumped her first kill of the night in the middle of all the Maryland defenders to put the Wolverines up one. Then a Sam Csire attack landed right in the net to give Michigan a 25-23 set victory. 

Set four was in the control of Michigan the whole way. They broke the set open with a 10-0 scoring run that gave them a 15-7 lead. The Wolverines used a late 6-0 scoring run to coast to a 25-11 set victory. 

The Terps struggled to keep Jess Mruzik in check throughout the match. The Michigan outside hitter ended the match with 19 kills and a .240 hitting percentage. Mruzik was able to score from different positions as well, something Head coach Adam Hughes said his squad struggled to defend. 

“You know, she’s one of the best players in the country, and she does it in a variety of ways. You know it was pretty amazing to that she was scoring, using hands, playing sharp, and then really did a good job on the back row when they needed her most,” said Hughes. 

The Maryland offense was good in the first two sets but struggled in the final two. The Terps hit under .100% in the last two sets, hitting negative in the fourth. The Michigan defense was able to block 13 balls, tying their season high in blocks. The Wolverines’ ability to fly around and cover the court limited the Maryland attack. 

“I mean, they cover a lot of balls, and they were able to turn some of the swings and transition them to better swings than we could get,” said Hughes. 

The Terps have two more games on their schedule. Hughes says the team will look to make the most of the opportunities they have left. 

“I think it’s really important for the group to keep telling them about it’s what they’re becoming not what they are right now,” said Hughes. “And so, if they really believe that they’ll have another good week of practice know that, you know, for these guys, there’s only a few days left to do it. And I’m sure they’re gonna want to make the most of it.”

Maryland will play its last home contest of the season, facing off against No. 19 Purdue in the Xfinity Pavilion on Wednesday.