After a highly emotional five-set loss to South Carolina on Saturday night, Maryland volleyball had a quick turnaround before facing an inferior Liberty team Sunday afternoon.
While the Terps did sweep the Flames, they did not play their best volleyball, hitting just .204 with 34 kills and allowing a 4-0 scoring run deep in the third set that prompted a timeout from Adam Hughes before they could finally convert a match point.
“We were very frantic,” middle blocker Rainelle Jones said. “We had to calm ourselves down throughout the match.”
Maryland could not find its rhythm early in the first set, falling behind 10-7 on three consecutive errors. After swapping points for most of the set, the Terps came alive at the end of the frame, ending on a 6-0 scoring run punctuated by a service ace by middle blocker Katie Myers.
The Terps had a faster start in the second frame, racing out to a 14-8 lead. But after Liberty took a timeout, the Flames went on a run to get even at 19-19. From there, Maryland regrouped and took the set 25-21.
While the Terps struggled offensively in the first two sets, managing only 17 kills as a team, they racked up six blocks on defense and were helped by slews of Liberty errors. The Flames made 26 errors in the match.
In the third frame, the Terps finally returned to form, registering 17 kills and hitting .300.
Outside hitter Erika Pritchard said being more selective allowed the team to improve its hitting.
“If it’s not there, then tip it to right back and let them play it back,” Pritchard said. “But if it’s there, just go get it and be more brave and aggressive with it.”
While Liberty took a 7-3 lead to start the third, the Terps rallied and pushed the Flames to the brink, taking a 24-18 lead before allowing Liberty to climb back into the set with a 4-0 run. After the timeout, Jada Gardner landed a spike just inside the sideline to clinch the set and the match for Maryland.
What the Terps lacked in flair they made up for in clean play, making just 14 errors in the match.
As it has most of the season, Maryland controlled the net from start to finish, out-blocking the Flames 10-4.
Pritchard said that the Terps forced themselves to move on from the loss to South Carolina and to keep their minds on Liberty.
“We just had to wash away the previous match and focus on the future,” Pritchard said. “What we can do and what we could control.”
Hughes said his team did not play its best and described the match as “a bit of a grind,” before added that the group is not yet a finished product.
“We are a young team,” Hughes said, “who is still learning how to play together.”
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated Maryland played Liberty on Saturday. The match was Sunday. This article has been updated.