Jamie Llewellyn’s serve careened off of Laila Ivey and carried beyond the endline as a sea of red Maryland jerseys furiously gave chase.
The desperate pursuers could only watch as Llewellyn’s ball met the navy blue flooring and sealed Maryland volleyball’s second late-set swoon of the day.
The Terps trailed by two sets after fumbling a pair of closely contested frames and couldn’t pull away in the third stanza as Maryland fell to Navy in straight sets, 3-0, on Sunday in Annapolis to close out the Kristen Dickmann Invitational.
The Terps (4-2) finished the weekend 2-1 after defeating Old Dominion on Friday and Utah Valley on Saturday.
All three sets were decided in the clutch, and each time Maryland folded late. The Terps led 18-14 in set one and 23-22 in the second frame, only to let the Midshipmen (5-1) steal a 25-23 win in each stanza. Maryland battled to within 21-20 in the third until Navy pounded down three kills en route to its first win over the Terps in program history in 12 tries.
“Every time we dug ourselves back out of it, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Maryland coach Adam Hughes said. “…When we did get them in some tough situations … they were able to find ways to score some points and you know, get the crowd into it. …We did not play well today, but realistically, they were also a better team today.”
Maryland hit a respectable .226 and posted 34 kills – Ivey and Anastasia Russ paced the Terps with six putaways apiece. But Hughes’ squad couldn’t deliver enough critical swings when it needed them most, and
Maryland washed out its two aces with 16 service errors, including Sydney Bryant’s misfire that sealed the Terps’ first sweep defeat of the season.
“I don’t think we had to do a lot today to be … in the match,” Hughes said. “But one or two points in each set … we had plenty of those chances and we didn’t execute, so we own that.”
The third set drew even at 17-17 before Maryland’s inconsistency from the endline resurfaced once more.
Sydney Dowler’s service error on the ensuing point put the Midshipmen back in front, and Ivey’s off-target attack doubled Navy’s lead as Hughes called timeout to regroup.
The Terps crept within 21-20 on Laila Ricks’ third putaway of the day, but Ashley Warren’s spike was the first of three straight by the Midshipmen, who shrugged off Bryant’s desperation kill and watched the freshman’s serve sail out of bounds to seal the match.
“I think the past few weeks, we’ve had that execution and hard work, but I think today we were lacking a bit,” outside hitter Sam Csire said. “We were going out for balls and everything but we just weren’t executing; we weren’t playing very clean.”
Maryland and Navy combined for four aces and eight service errors early in the first set as the Terps seized an 18-14 lead before the erratic offerings subsided and gave way to a back-and-forth battle between each side’s attack.
The Midshipmen drew even at 21-21 on Maggie Bodman’s solo block, and two kills by Csire weren’t enough to help Maryland keep pace with Navy’s humming offense, which used eight kills between Jamie and Jordan Llewellyn to claim the opening set.
The sisters had 15 combined putaways – matching the Terps as a whole – as the Midshipmen pounded their way to a 15-10 advantage in the second stanza until consecutive errors by Navy’s senior siblings set up another tight finish. Bryant and Ricks supplied key spikes off the bench for Maryland, which scooted ahead 23-22 on Eva Rohrbach’s third kill of the set.
Consecutive putaways by Bodman pushed the Terps to the brink, and Llewellyn’s subsequent serve crashed to the floor before Maryland could track it down.
With no go-to scorer, the Terps fed on kills from five different players to stay afloat in the third frame. Back-to-back putaways by Ivey made it 15-15, and Hughes’ squad overcame a Bodman ace to give itself a chance to grab a late lead after a pair of Navy errors.
But for the third and final time, Maryland fizzled out when it mattered most.