Rainelle Jones met Gem Grimshaw’s spike attempt at its summit, batting the late Temple try back to the hardwood late in a pivotal fifth set of action.
It was a massive stuff for Jones and the Terps, who just moments later clinched a five-set thriller on the road against Temple following a 3-0 defeat of LIU-Brooklyn to improve to 5-0 on its season.
“Obviously happy to go 2-0,” coach Adam Hughes said, “I thought the group did a good job just being patient, staying with it… that was a gritty win.”
Middle blocker Jones was surgical early. She notched three of her four first set kills within the first ten points of the contest to give her squad its first burst of momentum.
Riding the wave of an early swing, Maryland breezed to a dominant 25-18 first set victory. Five different Terps clocked multiple kills in the frame.
The Sharks found a lead in the second set but were no match for a hungry Maryland offense.
With the Sharks clinging to a three-point lead late in the set, an attack error by Laila Ricks forced another Hughes timeout. Following the break, back-to-back Long Island errors followed by kills from Sam Csire and Paula Neciporuka quickly dissolved the Sharks’ advantage.
And just moments later, Jones’ eighth kill of the contest clinched a 25-21 second set victory and a 2-0 Maryland lead.
The Terps’ dominance over Long Island would continue into the third set, as Csire began finding the holes in the Sharks’ defense.
“[Csire] was awesome,” setter Sydney Dowler said following the wins, “I felt a lot of confidence from her, a lot of fight, a lot of grit, she was just putting it away.”
Csire’s offensive prowess would carry the Terps to the finish line. She registered two more kills in the closing moments of the final frame en route to a 25-21 third set victory.
With the 3-0 win, the Terps moved to 4-0 on the season, the team’s best start since 2017.
Hours later, the Terps took the same court to face the Temple Owls at 7 p.m. The Owls, coming off of back-to-back losses to Stanford and Delaware, looked to pull an upset on the visiting Terps.
But by 7:15, the first set was already in the books.
Maryland came out at a blistering pace. Spurred by a Jones kill followed immediately by a thunderous rejection at the net, the Terps set the tempo for the frame, winning 15 of the first 17 points of the contest.
Maryland’s defense stifled any semblance of a Temple attack, tooling three blocks and holding the Owls to a -0.161 hitting percentage in a 25-6 first set blowout to open the contest.
“That was incredible,” Dowler said, “At this level it’s really tough to do that, to keep them under ten nonetheless, I mean six points is insane.”
After Maryland raced out to one of its most dominant set victories in recent memory, the Terps ran out of gas in the second frame.
Outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou came to life for the Owls, registering seven second set kills to will her squad back into the match. Maryland’s once sizzling offense quickly cooled off, as the Terps committed eight attack errors in a 25-21 second set loss.
The Owls struck first in the third set, forcing Maryland into an early timeout after two Taylor Davenport putaways gashed Maryland’s defense. Hannah Thompson connected on multiple kills of her own to even the set, but Temple prevailed to take a 2-1 lead.
After a Kayla Spells spike gifted the Owls a 26-25 lead deep in the third frame, a punishing Csire putaway staved off a set point for the Terps. Spells responded with yet another kill followed by a solo block, and Temple took the set.
Now just one set away from their first loss of the season, the Terps didn’t go down without a fight.
The Terps showed strength to close out the fourth frame. After consecutive Dowler kills late in the set garnered Hughes’ squad a late lead, a Neciporuka spike clinched a tight fourth frame to send the match into a fifth set.
The Terps charged into the fifth frame and earned a 7-1 advantage, but the Owls caught up. Temple went on a 9-2 run and applied serious pressure on the undefeated Terps
But the Owls’ attack fell apart.
An attack error by Grimshaw and a bad set by Patrycja Zielinska handed the Terps the match, sending Maryland’s bench into a frenzy with its undefeated season intact.
“I thought it was a really gritty win,” Dowler said, “this was a great team, and a really exciting game for us to go into and we got to learn a lot through it.”