Maryland volleyball isn’t strictly looking for aces when it serves, head coach Adam Hughes said Friday after his team swept Old Dominion. Instead, the Terps simply aim their offerings at locations that disrupt the opposing team’s ability to set up their offense in rhythm.
But Saturday’s third set proved that Hughes’ squad is plenty capable of sneaking a serve past their opponent.
Maryland bombarded Utah Valley with seven aces in the third frame and finished the day with 11 – including Sam Csire’s match-sealing ace to cap a teeter-totter fourth set – as the Terps overcame a rocky first frame and defeated the Wolverines 3-1 on Saturday in Maryland’s second match of the Kristen Dickmann Invitational in Annapolis.
“My favorite part is that I thought they were incredibly resilient,” Hughes said. “… It was back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, but people were still staying aggressive, playing with confidence … really proud of them for getting the ‘W.’”
The Terps (4-1) already led 6-2 in the third stanza when Samantha Schnitta returned to the endline for her fifth straight serve. The Ole Miss transfer whistled her offering off of the Wolverines’ Lani Matavao for Maryland’s first ace of the frame.
Csire outdid her fellow senior a few points later when she dealt three straight aces to widen the Terps’ advantage to 12-4. Erin Engel chipped in two more midway through the stanza, and Sydney Dowler capped Maryland’s serving spree with the team’s seventh ace of the set as the Terps stampeded the Wolverines 25-8..
“It’s not [that] we don’t want aces per se,” Hughes said, “It’s just we feel like they’re byproducts of serving well.”
Maryland muscled to a 21-17 advantage in the following frame, but Utah Valley ripped off six straight points to snatch the momentum back.
A kill by Schnitta and a block by Csire and Eva Rohrbach evened things at 23 apiece, and both squads jostled for the lead until Csire fittingly sealed Maryland’s 27-25 win with its final ace of the day — one that began with a first-set falter.
Saturday’s first frame bore little resemblance to the Terps’ opening stanza against Old Dominion the day before.
Hughes trotted out the same lineup that out-blocked the Monarchs 6-0 in the first set, but Maryland struggled early on to contain the Wolverines (1-5), who were an hour removed from a five-set loss to Old Dominion.
Five different players accounted for Utah Valley’s first five kills before Avery Shewell tagged the Terps with a trio of putaways midway through the set. The Wolverines snatched seven of eight points to seize a 20-13 lead.
The Terps finished the first stanza with nine attack errors, one more than they recorded throughout all three frames Friday, and were out-blocked 5-1 as their six-set winning streak went up in smoke.
“I just kind of felt like we were hoping that they were going to be tired, maybe,” Hughes said. “… I wanted us to start a little bit faster and see if we get a good jump and maybe put away a team early. And once we didn’t do that we knew it was … ‘Hey, lock in.’”
Eva Rohrbach helped Maryland stave off disaster in the subsequent frame after the Wolverines scored four in a row to claw ahead, 19-18.
Following a Terps timeout, the freshman greeted Utah Valley with a kill and a block, the first pair of six straight Maryland points that gave the Terps a 24-19 advantage. Rohrbach cashed in on Maryland’s fourth match-point try with her fourth spike of the frame to even the match at a set apiece.
The Terps nearly outscored the Wolverines from the service line alone and pounded 13 kills without committing an error in the third stanza to take a 2-1 lead.
Utah Valley’s late surge in the fourth threatened to send the match to a decisive fifth frame, but Laila Ivey belted her 11th kill to break a 25-25 tie before Csire toed the endline and cemented Maryland’s win.