Without Nicole Alford and Katie Myers, Maryland volleyball falls to No. 6 Minnesota, 3-0

Maryland volleyball coach Adam Hughes talks to his players during his team's 3-0 loss to Minnesota on Nov. 8, 2019. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

In the third set of Maryland volleyball’s Friday night match against No. 6 Minnesota, two of its captains were forced to watch in street clothes as their teammates allowed three straight points end the match in favor of the Golden Gophers.

Middle blocker Katie Myers and setter Nicole Alford sat out due to injury, making the tough task of playing a top-10 team even all the more challenging.

Without the two leaders, the Terps never gained control versus Minnesota, and they lost the match in straight sets (21-25, 19-25, 21-25).

“With the lineup we were putting out there, I was at least proud of the effort,” coach Adam Hughes said. “We tried our best to put a good lineup together in the last 36 hours.”

Myers — the team leader in blocks and hitting percentage — missed her first match of the season due to a sprained foot suffered in practice.

Maryland was also without its assist leader for the second straight match. Setter Nicole Alford was sidelined, leaving setter Sam Snyder to pick up the slack.

“A lot of different players needed to step up tonight,” middle blocker Rainelle Jones said. “We just needed to stay steady.”

The Terps’ defense struggled early on without its anchor. They hung with the Golden Gophers in the first set, but after allowing five straight kills, Minnesota was able to pull away. Backed by five kills from outside hitter Adanna Rollins, the Golden Gophers took the set, 25-21.

Jones heated up early in the second set, and she was responsible for three of the Terps’ first four points. However, Jones’ strong effort was no match for Minnesota’s firepower. The Golden Gophers went on three separate 3-0 runs, and they took the set by a score of 25-19.

Despite playing with a depleted roster, Maryland managed to stick with a very talented Minnesota squad in the third. As outside hitter Rebekah Rath got on a roll from behind the endline, Maryland went on a 4-0 run to pull within one.

“We ended up with a lot of good touches on the block,” outside hitter Erika Pritchard said. “That kept us in the game, but once it got tight, we felt the pressure.”

Minnesota’s stout defense proved to be too much for a run-down Maryland squad, though, and set three went to the Golden Gophers, 25-21.

“They’re a really good team,” Hughes said. “They are well-coached, and I knew we had to be at our best tonight. We gave ourselves some opportunities, but we weren’t able to close there down the stretch.”

While the Terps were unable to crack a formidable Minnesota squad, they will have another opportunity to knock off a top-10 team when No. 4 Wisconsin comes to town Saturday.

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