Sydney Dowler has milestone day in Maryland volleyball victory

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Sydney Dowler had a milestone day as she surpassed 1,000 career assists, in addition to setting a career high with six kills in a 3-1 victory over Michigan State. Sam Csire has also continued her reign of terror with 19 kills. She has tallied 39 kills in the past seven sets. 

The 3-1 win over Michigan State marks Maryland’s third straight victory in conference play.

Michigan State was a familiar team to the Terps, who they defeated 3-1 just one week prior.

The electric attendance added to an energetic start to the match, as both teams fought tooth and nail up until the score was tied at 16. Maryland suddenly caught fire, outscoring the Spartans 9-4 to win the first set, 25-20. Sam Csire, hot off two impressive matches, yet again put on a show with six kills in the first set.

Maryland could not celebrate for long. By the second set, the Terps found themselves quickly down 7-2. The squad regrouped following a timeout and, once they got going, the Terps could not be stopped. During a run where they outscored the Spartans by 11-2, the crowd got louder by the kill as the unit rode the energy to a complete resurgence.

A few minutes later, the Terps struck the final blow, cementing the comeback and taking a two-set lead with the score of 25-20.

Sam Csire yet again led the team in kills with six. This marked Maryland’s eighth straight set win.

By the start of the third set, there was still no stopping Maryland, who stormed out the gate to a 16-7 lead. Even as the lead diminished, it seemed to have been too little too late once Maryland hit match point with a four-point cushion. But, play after play the Spartans inched closer. A Naya Gros kill stunned the crowd as Michigan State became the first to reach 25.

The Spartans could not put the game away either. A Paula Neciporuka kill tied the game up and a Laila Ricks kill gave Maryland the opportunity to put the game away.

It was anyone’s game with the score tied at 26. A Sarah Franklin service ace grazed the back of the court. The next play, a Paula Neciporuka attack error made it official: Maryland had blown their opportunity to pull off the sweep.

“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted,” said Csire. “After that set happened, we kind of just focused on ourselves as a team … Let’s refocus. Let’s regroup.”

Despite the loss, it was a special set for setter Sydney Dowler, who’s milestone reminded the team of her impact. 

“[Dowler’s] our glue. She’s fiery and wild, sometimes you don’t see it,” said Coach Hughes. “She’s got the edge, and it’s clear that the team loves to play for her.”

Maryland had to quickly put the previous set behind them, and for the fourth they got off to a good start. Two consecutive aces from Milan Gomillion helped propel the Terps to a 6-2 start.

That also did not last long.

Cecilee Max-Brown responded with two consecutive service aces of her own in a run which gave the Spartans the one point lead.

The rest of the set was a back-and-forth affair with no team taking more than a two-point lead until the very end when a Kaylee Thomas service ace ended the match, 25-22.

This match marked the third straight where Sam Csire led the team in kills, this time with 19, including 17 in the first three sets.

“I think the one thing that we’re trying to get to [Csire] is that consistency comes from just trusting your skills and habits and not letting results dictate how you feel about,” said Coach Hughes. “I think she’s doing a good job where one mistake here or there doesn’t break her anymore.”

While Dowler lit up the stat sheet, it won’t show what might be her biggest strength: leadership.

“[Dowler’s] flawless. She connects great with our hitters and if not, she’ll talk about it until it gets fixed,” said Csire. “She’s someone who’s just a really good leader offensively, defensively, and she’s a really good communicator on the court, and [she’s] a really good role model.”

Maryland will be looking to extend its three-game winning streak when they face #14 Penn State on the road. The Terps will look to get revenge after Penn State came back from a 2-0 deficit to win in Maryland. The game starts at 7:30 on Friday.