With Maryland volleyball down two sets to a highly talented Minnesota team, middle blocker Cara Lewis looked to field a Regan Pittman serve, in hopes of turning the tides to force a fourth set.
However, as she attempted to dig the ball, she collided with teammate Sam Burgio, both collapsing to the floor as the Golden Gophers took the point, their bench roaring with excitement.
These errors epitomized the evening for the Terps, who dropped to 0-4 on the season after being swept by No. 7 Minnesota, 3-0 (23-25, 18-25, 15-25).
Maryland capitalized off of three quick kills by Rainelle Jones, Erika Pritchard and Jada Gardner to grab the momentum early in the first set. However, despite rushing out to a quick 5-2 lead, the No. 7 Gophers quickly responded, rattling off five straight points thanks in part to errors from Gardner and Pritchard.
The back-and-forth affair would continue throughout the first set. With the Terps down 21-20 late, the Terps and the Gophers engaged in an intense, 40-second rally featuring multiple kill attempts from Pritchard and impressive digs from Burgio, culminating in a successful Pritchard kill to knot the game.
“We took the energy from the third set that we had yesterday and tried to bring it into the game today,” middle blocker Cara Lewis said of her team’s effort in the first set. “Yesterday, I felt like we were so close and that energy had us playing like we’ve never played before.”
But the Terps shot themselves in the foot late in the set. Back-to-back errors from Pritchard and Gardner gave the Gophers multiple set points. And as an Adanna Rollins kill attempt careened to the floor, the Terps lost a competitive first set, 25-23.
After squeaking by in the first frame, Minnesota found its footing early in the second, racing out to a 7-2 lead behind two early spikes from Pittman.
However, as has been the case throughout the season so far, Maryland worked its way back into it. With outside hitter Rebekah Rath up to nine total kills midway through the second set, the Terps dug themselves out of their early hole, at one point trailing by just three points.
As Minnesota’s lead continued to shrink, the seventh-ranked Gophers turned to former Terp Katie Myers to regain their momentum. Myers, who transferred to Minnesota after graduating from Maryland last year, accounted for two straight rejections at the net to turn the tables on the Terps.
Myers’ work by the net paid off for the Golden Gophers, as Minnesota stretched its lead back up to nine in a crucial second frame. And despite two more Rath kills late, the Gophers coasted to a second-set victory, 25-18.
“Minnesota’s offense was very clean through the first two sets… and had a really balanced offense and defense,” head coach Adam Hughes said of the Gophers, “and they kind of showed what they can be.”
With Minnesota’s offense now firmly in rhythm, the Gophers pounced on the Terps in the third set. Minnesota jumped out to a 10-point lead and never looked back, as Rollins, Landfair and the Gophers nabbed the third set 25-15, completing back-to-back sweeps against the winless Terps.
“I thought the level of play tonight was better than it was last night,” Hughes said. “But… in the second and third, just too many long runs, they kind of closed the gap and made it out of reach.”