Laila Ricks backpedaled as she watched Milan Gomillion dig a serve from the back row, moving into position to receive a floating Sydney Dowler set.
As Ricks leapt into the air, she realized she was out of position. Deftly, Ricks poked the ball softly past two awaiting defenders, clinching the second set of a dominant Maryland volleyball victory over Iona, 3-0 (25-13, 25-10, 25-15).
“It was a good win,” middle blocker Hannah Thompson said, “It was cool, we got to get a few people that we normally don’t, so it was a lot of fun.”
After surviving a five-set thriller against Temple Friday evening, the Terps had just hours to recover before retaking the same Philadelphia floor the next day to battle Iona.
Despite their lack of rest, Maryland didn’t miss a step in its first frame against the Gaels.
Thompson and Paula Neciporuka started the match strong for coach Adam Hughes’ squad, chipping in three kills apiece to garner Maryland an early advantage. The Terps also came out confident from behind the service line, gashing Iona’s zone with three early service aces.
“I thought the med staff did a great job,” Hughes said of his team’s recovery heading into the match, “this morning we got up, we did a little bit of yoga… I thought we had fresh legs.”
With the Terps holding a four point advantage midway through the first set, a Dowler set was pummelled off of an Iona blocker’s hands by middle blocker Ricks.
Ricks’ second kill of the frame spurred an 8-0 Maryland run, as the Terps coasted to a comfortable 25-13 first set victory.
With a boatload of momentum following a dominant opening frame, Hughes’ squad kept its foot on the gas in the subsequent set.
Outside hitter Sam Csire came to life from the wing, opening the second frame with her first kill of the afternoon to set the tempo for the Terps.
Iona, which posted a -0.172 hitting percentage in the first set, continued its stagnant play. The Gaels posted 11 errors in the second frame following a nine-error first set, allowing Maryland to take complete control of the contest.
Csire and the Terps continued the onslaught, as an early seven point lead quickly ballooned to 11. And with the set quickly out of hand, Hughes was able to insert some of his bench to finish the job. The Terps took the second set 25-10 and claimed a 2-0 lead.
Now just one set away from leaving the Cherry and White Challenge with its flawless record still intact, Maryland remained relentless to close out the contest.
Neciporuka continued to impress, converting on five of her match-high nine kills in the third to amass yet another large Maryland lead.
Midway through the third and final frame, three Hannah Thompson kills in succession blew the door open for the Terps. With a three point lead pushed to six, the Terps didn’t look back in a 25-15 third set victory. Maryland closed out the Cherry and White Challenge in dominant fashion to maintain its perfect record.
“Obviously I’m glad that we have a preseason,” Hughes said, “so we get some time to, you know, work on our lineups… last year we didn’t have that luxury.”