Deep in a contentious third set, a controversial overruling on a Michigan kill attempt left Maryland volleyball coach Adam Hughes irate.
Michigan outside hitter Jess Mruzik’s sizzling spike had careened wide, seemingly gifting Hughes’ squad a two-point lead as the Terps inched closer to a third set victory. However, a far-side official claimed a Wolverines blocker had tipped the kill attempt, stymieing Maryland’s late momentum.
“Not gonna try to get myself in trouble but I thought it was a really bad call,” Hughes said. “We have [line] judges for a reason, and neither of them called it, and we got overruled.”
Hughes, who is known for his stoic demeanor on the sidelines, received a yellow card. While his challenge was deemed inconclusive, it came to the delight of Maryland’s bench.
“It brought a lot of energy seeing Adam get a yellow card and all of us were just hyping him up,” middle blocker Rainelle Jones said. “I feel like it brought some grit, some fun … I’ve never seen him like that before.”
But Hughes’ third-set momentum boost proved too little, too late for the Terps.
Haunted by a sluggish start, Hughes’ side was unable to fend off a pesky Michigan squad at home in College Park. Maryland suffered just its fourth home loss of the season on Sunday afternoon, surrendering 43 kills without recording a single block assist in the 3-0 defeat.
For Hughes, the Terps’ slow start boiled down to poor preparation from their coaching staff.
“Felt like we were flat and that’s on me, I gotta find a better way to get us going from the jump,” Hughes said. “I thought we started slow, probably gave them a lot of confidence, and the next thing you know you’re playing from behind against really good teams.”
Maryland stumbled out of the gates in the first frame, committing five errors in the first nine points of the match as the Wolverines strolled to a sizable advantage.
The Terps’ offense floundered throughout the first set, allowing Michigan’s lead to balloon due to a bevy of errors. Hughes’ squad clocked a -0.061 hitting percentage in the frame, falling flat in a 25-13 first set trouncing to open the Big Ten battle.
And while Maryland eventually found its footing, slowly locating the cracks in the Wolverines’ defense as the match progressed, the damage had already been done.
The Terps’ touted defense was unable to quell a Michigan offense firmly in its rhythm, as the Wolverines continued to gash Maryland with a barrage of efficient offense. Coach Mark Rosen’s squad finished with a staggering .404 hitting percentage, feeding off the Terps’ slow start to impose its will on Hughes’ side.
Michigan exited Xfinity Pavilion victorious, as Maryland found itself on the wrong end of a sweep for the first time in College Park this season.
“We knew what we [needed] to do, but I guess we didn’t find the energy or that grit that we normally have,” Jones said.