After a booming Sam Csire spike was collected in the back row, Gabby Blossom lofted a set in Anjelina Starck’s direction.
Starck rose and fired, sending a sizzling spike past a diving Milan Gomillion for No. 13 Penn State’s 47th and final kill of the match.
Her spike put the finishing touches on a dominant evening for the Nittany Lions, who strolled to a 3-0 sweep of Maryland volleyball (23-25, 10-25, 20-25).
“I thought Penn State played really clean,” coach Adam Hughes said. “They were really low error. I thought they won the serve and pass and kind of dictated the terms of the match a little bit.”
The Terps, who had been rolling following three straight conference victories, fell victim to the Nittany Lions’ balanced attack on the road. Maryland, which showed spurts of potential in the opening set, was unable to cash in on an early momentum swing in the first stanza.
Middle blocker Rainelle Jones pushed the pace for the Terps early in the opening frame, linking up with Csire for two quick block assists to spur a 4-0 run.
Jones, the leader of Maryland’s stalwart defense, helped stifle a potent Penn State offense early to give Hughes’ squad a flash of momentum.
The Nittany Lions quickly found their footing to eviscerate Hughes’ squads early advantage, as a flurry of kills from a bevy of Penn State attackers halted the Terps’ blazing fast start.
And while Csire continued to punish legendary coach Russ Rose’s squad with seven kills in the opening frame, it wasn’t enough to hold off a hungry Nittany Lions offense.
Five players clocked multiple kills for Penn State in the first set en route to a 25-23 victory, as the Nittany Lions registered 20 total spikes to grab a 1-0 lead at home.
With its early momentum squandered by a rhythmic Penn State attack, Maryland floundered in the subsequent frame.
Two booming Kaitlyn Hord spikes in quick succession opened the floodgates early in the second, as the Nittany Lions swiftly took command of the match. Penn State’s consistent attack gashed the Terps’ block, notching 12 kills without a single error to quell any of their momentum.
And with Maryland’s offense suddenly in a stupor, Rose’s squad pounced to win a lopsided second set. Hughes’ multiple timeouts late in the frame proved futile in the 25-10 second set trouncing, as the Nittany Lions asserted their dominance in the Big Ten battle.
“[In] the second set, I think we kind of just weren’t playing our game,” Csire said. “We were making mistakes that we don’t usually make. … [That] shouldn’t be happening with a Big Ten program.”
The Terps showed fight in the third set of the evening, looking to shake off their worst set defeat of the season.
Csire and fellow outside hitter Paula Neciporuka, who each had relatively quiet second sets, came back out with a sense of urgency in the third frame. Slowly finding the holes in Penn State’s stifling defense, Maryland went blow for blow with the Nittany Lions throughout the set.
But just as the Terps found a glimmer of hope, outside hitter Jonni Parker and Penn State hardened to close out the sweep.
After four straight Maryland points late in the third frame brought the Terps within striking distance, the Nittany Lions rattled off four of the last five points of the match to clinch the 3-0 sweep. With the victory, Penn State snapped Maryland’s three-game winning streak in dominant fashion to cool off the red-hot Terps.
“We learn from it, learn everything we can from it, and wash it and move on,” Csire said.