When Maryland volleyball outside hitter Erika Pritchard recorded a third consecutive kill, she narrowed the third set with No. 7 Wisconsin to 24-22, bringing the record 1,848 people inside Xfinity Center Pavilion to their feet.
But Badgers middle blocker Dana Rettke silenced the crowd and extinguished the hope of a comeback, slamming home a kill to end the match.
The Terps hung with the Badgers in each of the sets, but Maryland never posed much of a threat toward the annual NCAA tournament squad, getting swept in what is likely its last home match of the season (25-22, 28-26, 25-22).
One day after Maryland stole set one from No. 3 Minnesota en route to a 3-1 loss, the Terps again jumped out on a top-10 foe. Both teams traded points for the start of the first set until Maryland rattled off five straight points to take a 12-8 lead.
But the Badgers whittled away at that deficit and went on a run of five straight points themselves to take control late, winning the frame, 25-22.
The Terps held Rettke in check through the first set, limiting her to a single kill on nine attacks. In total, Rettke hit .115 with 7 kills. Despite her slow offensive night, Rettke still made an impact, leading the Badgers with six blocks.
“We did a good job out of the gate, just not trying to let her get too comfortable,” coach Adam Hughes said. “We got some extra hands in front of her and we had a very scrappy performance in the back row.”
While Rettke was not much of an offensive factor, Wisconsin’s attack was paced by outside hitter Madison Duello. Duello led the Badgers with 13 kills on an .333 hitting percentage.
The second set was even tighter than the first, with neither team getting a lead of more than one point until the Badgers built an 18-16 advantage, forcing a Maryland timeout. While the Terps managed to hold off Wisconsin on its first four set-points, the Badgers finally closed out the set on a Grace Loberg kill to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
After getting outblocked, 7-2, in the first set, the Terps frontline defense proved to be a force in the second frame, recording five blocks. Despite the stronger defensive showing, Maryland was unable to hold the Wisconsin offense in check. The Badgers swung at a .327 clip in the second set with 24 kills.
Maryland’s offense ran heavily through outside hitter Erika Pritchard. She accounted for 55 of the Terps 134 total attacks, recording a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs while adding 4 blocks.
“We put a lot of weight on her and we trust her to do what she’s going to do,” Hughes said. “Some days she’s going to have a tough matchup, and I thought they did a good job getting two people in front of her.”
Pritchard almost sparked a miracle for the Terps in the third set. Trailing, 24-19, Pritchard recorded three straight kills, interrupted by a Wisconsin timeout. Despite the furious last effort, Rettke’s kill snuffed out the hopes of a comeback and ended the match.
As a team, the Terps hit just .127, with 37 kills against 20 errors. Middle blocker Rainelle Jones was an offensive bright spot, contributing 9 kills and just 1 error.
“We definitely had to know what our shots were, because they’re so good defensively,” Jones said. “We really had to focus on changing our shots.”