After a blistering Nebraska kill attempt sailed over the endline, Maryland volleyball’s bench erupted.
The Cornhuskers’ missed spike gifted the Terps a bevy of set points to work with deep in the second set of action as coach Adam Hughes’ squad searched desperately for a road upset, Friday evening.
But Nebraska stood tall to quell Maryland’s late run.
A Sam Csire service error followed by two stifling block assists gave the Cornhuskers new life in the set, as outside hitter Whitney Lautenstein helped squander the Terps’ three-point advantage. With the momentum back on Nebraska’s side, a booming Laila Ricks spike just moments later flew wide to give the Cornhuskers a come-from-behind 26-24 second set victory.
It was a back-breaking sequence of events for Hughes’ squad, which suffered its third straight defeat at the hands of No. 11 Nebraska, 3-0 (25-11, 26-24, 25-18).
“We put together a pretty good defensive effort in the second, but I thought their defense just caused us a little bit of some problems getting some kills,” Hughes said following the loss.
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An array of errors haunted both sides of the net early in the opening frame as the Terps and Cornhuskers traded misfires.
Hughes’ squad had suffered from sluggish starts in its previous two losses and committed five attack errors in the first nine points of Friday’s match to stumble out of the gates once again.
And while Nebraska was similarly slow in the opening moments of the contest, coach John Cook’s squad quickly found its rhythm to dominate the remainder of the set.
Outside hitter Madi Kubik began to impose her will on Maryland’s block midway through the frame, punching home five first-set kills leading the way for Cook’s offense. The Terps’ attack couldn’t get rolling as the Cornhuskers rattled off multiple long service runs, stymieing any semblance of Maryland’s momentum.
After a Terp block assist late in the frame stopped a 4-0 Nebraska run, the Cornhuskers collected seven of the final eight points to cap off a 25-11 trouncing. Hughes’ squad posted a -.139 hitting percentage in the frame, finishing with 10 attack errors in the lospided first set defeat.
However Maryland quickly put its crushing first-set loss in the past as the match continued.
Setter Sydney Dowler began finding star outside hitter Sam Csire early in the second frame, as Csire jump-started the Terps’ offense with a four-kill barrage.
After Csire’s fourth kill, a Maryland block assist followed immediately by a Paula Neciporuka spike forced Cook to burn an early timeout with his team in a four-point hole.
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The Terps would continue to apply pressure out of the break, pushing the Cornhuskers to the brink after garnering three set points in hopes of knotting the match at one set apiece.
But the Cornhuskers would parry Maryland’s offensive spurt with an outburst of their own, rattling off the final five points of the set in a 26-24 victory to slow the Terps’ hot streak.
“We scrapped really well,” libero Milan Gomillion said of her team’s second set effort. “Although it’s not the outcome we wanted, I think we still had relentless pursuit and we kept going after it.”
And while Maryland would continue to battle in the third and final set of the evening—winning the first four points of the frame— Nebraska proved too much to handle at the Devaney Center.
Midway through the set, Kubik and the Cornhuskers went on a 9-2 run to completely regain control of the match. Hughes’ squad couldn’t procure a miracle comeback in the final moments of the match, falling to Nebraska in straight sets following a 25-18 third set loss to move to 18-9 on the season.
“Tomorrow is a new opportunity,” Gomillion said. “I think that if we come out and just play hard and finish, I think we’ll get the result that we want.”