Milan Gomillion darted forward, gearing up for a dig that would prolong a critical rally for Maryland volleyball.
But her headfirst slide across the Pritchard Gymnasium hardwood was in vain, as Katie Hickey’s delicate attack over the leap of Laila Ivey and Anastasia Russ landed well in front of the libero’s outstretched right arm.
Hickey’s dump kill evened set two at 19, thrusting the Terps into a back-and-forth set — a position all too familiar for Maryland in 2022.
However, as the Terps have done so far throughout the young season, they dug deep and pulled away.
A Lexy Finnerty service ace preceded a trio of Laila Ricks kills to help Maryland emerge with a crucial 25-20 set two victory. The Terps rode the momentum of their gritty win into the third and final set to sweep the Seawolves and finish their doubleheader unblemished. Friday’s second set against Stony Brook was another display of resiliency from the Terps, who played 11 sets in less than 24 hours at the Stony Brook Invitational and won two of their three matches.
[Maryland volleyball falls in five sets to South Florida, 3-2]
“The coaching staff prepared us very well for actually having to deal with these long sets,” outside hitter Sam Csire said. “Before our Red-White scrimmage and before our first tournament, we practiced just switching sides in our court and just playing multiple sets so that if we were put in that kind of scenario, it wasn’t kind of like a scare for us.”
Maryland’s repeatedly demonstrated its ability to turn a competitive set into a dominant one early in the season, engineering scoring runs that sap the opposition’s momentum.
The Terps mounted a 10-1 run to pull away from a pesky Rhode Island team in their first set of the season and took 13 of the final 17 points from the next set after trailing halfway through.
In its first set against Stony Brook, Maryland trailed 16-14 before surging back to claim 11 of the final 14 points.
The Terps were in danger of falling into a two-set hole following a defeat in the opening frame to South Florida, only to respond by rattling off the final 10 points of the second set to cruise to a 25-12 victory.
[Laila Ricks helps Maryland volleyball cruise to sweeps of Stony Brook, Georgetown]
“The mindset would be, ‘What can we adjust during the game?’” middle blocker Rainelle Jones said. “Our energy [is] consistent throughout the entire game … We do a great job of communicating with each other.”
Though the Terps built on their rally against the Bulls by snatching a crucial swing set, Maryland couldn’t hold off a late South Florida surge. The Terps dropped their final two sets to close out their long weekend.
“It shows a little bit this weekend,” said coach Adam Hughes of his team’s energy amid its crowded early season schedule. “You know, you’re on match three, and you’re starting to fade a little bit … we’ll try to get fresh and do our best.”
The Terps’ workload doesn’t get any lighter this week as they travel to California to compete in the San Diego State tournament. However, Maryland believes its early season success will travel with the Terps as long as their mindset remains the same.
“If we’re able to play free and be ourselves, we play our best,” Csire said. “If we do our job, then the success is going to come our way.”