Jonna Spohn darted from the middle of the back row and went full-extension for a dig to prolong a potential game-winning rally for Maryland volleyball. Moments later, Sydney Dowler pinballed a violent right-handed swing through a sea of Coastal Carolina defenders as the Xfinity Center Pavilion erupted for the final time throughout the Terps’ spirited home opener.
Dowler’s spike was Maryland’s 65th of the match, the team’s season-high, and sealed a two-point win in a decisive fifth frame after the Terps squandered a two-set lead before recovering to down the Chanticleers 3-2 on Friday in the opening game of the Maryland Tournament in College Park.
“They picked up a little speed in the third … I thought we played a little slow in the fourth but then battled our way to get back in it,” Maryland coach Adam Hughes said. “…I thought [we] did a good job being composed and finding a way to win.”
The Terps’ explosive offensive display came a game after Maryland logged a season-low 34 kills in its 3-0 loss to Navy last Sunday. Hughes’ squad shredded Coastal Carolina from all areas of the court, getting double-digit putaways from five different scorers.
Laila Ricks was poised from the right pin throughout her second start this season in place of an ill Samantha Schnitta, who entered Friday second on the team with 51 kills. The senior swung with the confidence of a veteran who started 27 matches last season, rocketing a season-high 13 putaways past the Chanticleers.
Two of Ricks’ kills propelled Maryland to an early cushion in the fifth frame after the Terps dropped a 27-25 slugfest in the fourth set. Lauren Malone pulled Coastal Carolina even at 5-5 before her error put the visitors in a two-point hole as the squads switched sides.
“We’ve been really focused on getting back to the present,” Dowler said. “…Not thinking about the fact that we just lost the last two sets, you know, it’s a free-for-all. It’s 0-0 now from the jump … whoever’s the most present, whoever wants it more is gonna win it.”
Laila Ivey’s mishit for Maryland knotted the set at nine apiece, but Ricks atoned on the ensuing point. Ivey and Anastasia Russ logged 11 kills each for the Terps (5-2). Sam Csire’s 13th putaway replenished the Terps’ lead to two points, and Eva Rohrbach’s 10th spike ricocheted into the netting above the bleachers to set up Dowler’s winner.
Dowler bundled her five spikes with 57 assists, two shy of her career-best.
“It was kind of fun — you got five hitters with over 10 kills because of [Dowler], but even more fitting that she’s the one who finishes it by taking a big swing,” Hughes said.
The Terps pounded down 33 kills throughout a pair of crisp sets to seize a 2-0 lead before the Chanticleers (3-5) clamped down and relied on Jasmine Rivest’s scorching swing to push the match to its limit.
Rivest shredded Maryland with seven spikes and Malone slipped two serves past the Terps as the Chanticleers mounted a 24-21 cushion in the third frame. The redshirt senior sealed the set with her 16th spike and powered down four more early in the subsequent stanza to boost Coastal Carolina to a 17-12 advantage.
“She was working like sharp inside of us and then going on over seams,” Hughes said of Rivest, who finished with a match-high 22 kills. “…She was the one that we were really trying to find a solution to.”
Four straight Chanticleer errors flipped the fourth frame on its head as the Terps grabbed a late lead, which Maryland rode to a match-point opportunity after Malone’s misfire made it 25-24. Unfazed, the redshirt junior belted three straight kills to draw the decisive fifth frame.
But after spending most of the night deferring the big swings to her teammates, Maryland’s senior setter stepped up and delivered the most crucial of them all.