Already having a career day with 17 kills, Laila Ivey rose to the occasion one final time for Maryland volleyball.
The freshman outside hitter soared above the net and walloped a deftly-placed lob from Sydney Dowler through the teeth of Iowa’s defense for her 18th putaway, one that gave her team a late lead and propelled the Terps past Iowa 3-1 for their first home win since Aug. 26.
“It’s a little late, but I’m glad we got it,” coach Adam Hughes said of the win. “It was great to have the full band there … it made a huge difference and they were loud, and that’s the atmosphere we want to build.”
After springing out to a 12-7 lead in the fourth set, Hughes’ squad seemed poised to steamroll past a lowly Iowa squad that walked into the Xfinity Center Pavilion winless on the road this season.
But the Hawkeyes ignored the roar of the Maryland faithful and used a bevy of Amiya Jones putaways to push within a point of forcing a fifth set.
Ivey’s 17th kill helped the Terps stave off two set points and set up a match-point opportunity before their tenth service error gave Iowa another stab at forcing a fifth-set showdown.
But it never came.
Ivey reached back to pummel her final kill of the day on the ensuing rally, and Jones’ hot hand flamed out as her attack on the next point sailed long, dropping the curtain on a thrilling fourth-set finish that sealed Maryland’s gritty 27-25 win.
“She was doing it in clutch situations,” Hughes said of Ivey’s offensive onslaught. “That’s a big reason why we were able to get the win … very, very, very proud of Laila today.”
[Maryland volleyball leaned on its bench players against Penn State]
Maryland struggled to mount offensive momentum in a first set riddled with long rallies and hit just .143 against an Iowa front that entered the match ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage.
Spurred by a pair of Ivey putaways, the Terps quickly dug out of an early hole to knot the set at nine before Michelle Urquhart’s second kill of the stanza put Iowa ahead for good.
Urquhart added a block and two more kills that pushed the Hawkeyes’ lead to five and eventually sent a floundering Maryland squad back to its bench on the wrong end of a 25-21 first set decision.
But as Ivey continued to heat up, so did the Terps. The freshman opened the second stanza on a tear, pummeling five more kills to complement a pair of aces by Lexy Finnerty and Ellie Watson as Maryland dashed to a 15-7 lead.
“I saw so much confidence from her,” Finnerty said of Ivey. “She’s been working day in and day out at practice. I think that she just really came to life today, and it was exciting to see.”
[Maryland volleyball loses 24th straight match to No. 15 Penn State, 3-1]
But Maryland struggled to pin down one of the conference’s worst teams.
Keyed by three aces and a set of back-to-back blocks by Jones, the Hawkeyes ripped off 12 of the next 14 points to take a 19-17 lead that reduced the Xfinity Center Pavilion crowd’s once-echoing roar to a timid murmur.
A timely Terps timeout bench slowed Iowa’s surge and set the stage for a critical rally with the frame even at 23.
Already sitting at six kills in the set, Ivey emphatically ended a riveting rally with a sizzling spike that nicked the back corner of the court to push Maryland to a 25-23 second set victory.
Ivey continued to slice through Iowa’s block in the third set, registering three more spikes as Maryland coasted to its most comfortable set win of the day, a convincing 25-14 victory that put the Terps on the brink of their first home triumph of the conference slate.
And even after the Hawkeyes flipped a five-point deficit to a three-point lead and a set-point opportunity in the fourth frame, Ivey remained locked in, blasting a pair of crunch-time kills to cap off her career day and give Maryland a long-overdue home win.