On the wrong end of a block from a pair of Nebraska players, Maryland volleyball outside hitter Erika Pritchard was left with nothing to do but shrug. Pritchard took one of her bigger swings of the night, but her kill attempt had no chance of making it around the Cornhusker blockers.
The shrug summed up Maryland’s bout Saturday, as the Terps failed to get anything going offensively. While Pritchard posted a team-high 10 kills, Maryland amassed a hitting percentage of just .143.
In the end, No. 5 Nebraska showed no mercy, and it emerged victorious in straight sets (19-25, 16-25, 13-25).
“I don’t think we ever got our legs under us,” coach Adam Hughes said. “That’s an awfully good team. We understood that was something that could happen, but the locker room is a little disappointed that they didn’t have a better effort tonight.”
After Nebraska went on a 5-0 scoring run early in the first set, it looked like it was going to run away with the set. But out of a Hughes timeout, Maryland came up with three of the next four points to pull within one.
Helped by five kills from 6-foot-5 middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach, the Cornhuskers pulled away from Hughes’ squad, and they came out on top in set one, 25-19.
“We knew we were trying to get off to a good start,” Hughes said. “I thought we had a chance there early on if we got the crowd involved a little bit.”
Errors plagued the Terps throughout the match, but especially in the second set. Nebraska ended up with a bevy of points off miscues in the frame — including three service errors — and Maryland was unable to recover from its mistakes, dropping the set by a score of 25-16.
The Terps finished the match with 15 attack errors and nine service errors. On Wednesday night against Indiana, Maryland had nine service errors total in its five-set win.
“Getting the ball on the other side of the net is definitely a focus of ours,” middle blocker Rainelle Jones said. “We need to get back in the gym and work on it some more.”
But when Maryland wasn’t making the errors, Nebraska was flashing its high-powered offense. Two Cornhuskers players finished the match with double-digit kills, and the team hit .337.
The third set was more of the same for the Terps. They allowed Nebraska to jump out to a 4-0 lead, and coach John Cook’s squad never looked back. Two early timeouts from Hughes couldn’t help his team compete in the third set, as it fell lopsidedly, 25-13.
With the straight-sets loss against the Cornhuskers, Maryland moved to 3-5 in the Big Ten and 5-4 at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.
“We’re definitely going to learn from this,” Pritchard said. “We’re going to wash it, and work on all the things in practice that we need to work on.”