When Maryland volleyball faced Indiana Sunday, it was looking to end its season-long losing streak at three games.
The Terps achieved their goal comfortably, hitting over .300 for the sixth time this campaign and knocking off the Hoosiers — and former coach Steve Aird — in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-16).
The Terps used used net domination and clean hitting to win the first set. Maryland (13-9, 4-6 Big Ten) hit .317 with just two unforced errors while blocking the Hoosiers (13-8, 4-6) three times en route to a 25-21 victory.
Middle blocker Rainelle Jones and outside hitter Erika Pritchard both started off hot, each contributing five kills and no errors in the first frame. Pritchard was even better in the second set, with 10 kills and just one error on her way to a 20-kill match with a .354 hitting percentage.
Pritchard had hit under .200 and made double-digit errors in each of her last two matches. Against Indiana, she played cleaner, making only three total errors.
“If the set wasn’t there, I wanted to extend rallies and trust our defense behind me,” Pritchard said, “but I really wanted to stay aggressive.”
Jones finished with nine kills (her most in a conference match) and had no errors, good for a .474 hitting percentage.
Jones credited much of her success to setter Nicole Alford, a sentiment echoed by coach Adam Hughes.
“Nicole did a really good job,” Hughes said. “We been pretty heavily dependent on the outsides, and she’s been able to build trust with people.”
In the second set, Indiana quickly mounted a 6-2 advantage, but Maryland came right back with four straight points to tie it. From there, neither team was able to build a lead larger than three points, but the Terps scored six of the last eight points to take the frame, 25-23.
After the tight second-set victory, the Terps had no trouble in the final frame. They rushed out to a 7-2 lead and never looked back, taking the set, 25-16. The Terps hit .323 in the frame and held the Hoosiers to a .077 clip.
The Terps matched their season-low with only four blocks on the match, but had 58 digs and held the Hoosiers to a .144 hitting percentage.
“We were taking away shots that we needed to,” Hughes said. “We were digging a lot of balls because we were in good spots, so I was OK with just four blocks.”
Hughes dismissed the idea that the match had added significance due to the presence of Aird. He said that playing against his alma mater Penn State had prepared him for this kind of encounter and added that he made sure his team treated this as they would any other match.
“Going into this week, we talked a lot about making sure we had to execute a gameplan,” Hughes said. “It was a good win, but it was Maryland versus Indiana so that didn’t have an impact on the match.”