Rainelle Jones threw her arms up in elation, embracing Sam Csire as the two jogged back to Maryland’s huddle.
Moments earlier, outside hitter Kari Zumach attempted a powerful right-side kill. Zumach’s shot was slammed back to her feet by Jones and Csire for a stifling front court rejection.
It was a common sight for fans at Xfinity Pavilion on Saturday evening, as Maryland volleyball’s defense racked up 14 blocks en route to a dominant 3-0 victory over Indiana to snap a four-game skid.
“I thought they did a really good job executing on defense,” coach Adam Hughes said following the win. “You’ve got to come bring your best foot forward and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”
The visiting Hoosiers looked to continue to push the pedal against a Maryland team that took a gut punch against Northwestern in their previous contest.
But it was the Terps that drew first blood in the opening set.
Maryland’s defense formed a brick wall at the net early, racking up four block assists within the first seven points of the contest to race out to a 7-0 advantage. Middle blocker Jones, the Big Ten’s leader in blocks per set, finished with seven rejections in the first frame to help hold the Hoosiers to a -0.027 hitting percentage.
And while coach Steve Aird’s squad would soon find its rhythm to tighten the gap midway through the first set, it wasn’t enough to overcome a sluggish start.
Jones continued to sizzle, converting on all five of her kill attempts to lead the Terps to a decisive 25-14 first set victory. Maryland struggled with consistency Friday against Northwestern, but committed just three attack errors in an efficient first set performance.
“Syd [Dowler] got us off to a good start serving, kind of kept them out of system where they had to be one-dimensional,” Hughes said. “You get off to a good start, it sets the tone for the rest of the match for sure.”
Riding the momentum of a dazzling opening set win, the Terps continued to push the pace in the subsequent frame.
Maryland’s defense, which forced Indiana’s star outside hitter Breana Edwards into seven attack errors in the opening set, continued to pressure Edwards in the second. With middle blockers Jones, Laila Ricks and Hannah Thompson asserting their dominance up front, the Terps garnered another sizable advantage midway through the second frame.
After a putaway by Thompson gave the Terps a five point advantage, Aird burned a timeout to help slow Maryland’s mid-set roll. Aird’s tactic briefly succeeded, as Morgan Geddes converted on a quick putaway to chip into the Terps’ lead.
But a booming spike by Ricks on the subsequent point followed by a Paula Neciporuka putaway put the set firmly out of reach. Maryland coasted to a 25-17 second set victory, sending the Hoosiers jogging to their bench in a 2-0 hole.
And while Indiana gave Maryland a brief scare in the third, going blow-for-blow for the first half of the set, the Terps wouldn’t be denied.
With the frame knotted at 16, Geddes and middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede blocked a Neciporuka kill attempt to give the Hoosiers a rare advantage. Hughes’ squad immediately responded by rattling off the next four points, flipping the momentum back in Maryland’s favor.
And despite a late Hoosier charge, the Terps rolled to a 26-24 third set victory. With the win, Maryland snapped a four game losing streak to reinsert itself as a dangerous Big Ten team.
“[It’s] definitely a start-up again, it’s definitely going to keep all of us motivated, all of us learning from all the past losses, but I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun for the future,” Jones said of the win.