Maryland volleyball has often gotten itself in trouble from the service line. The Terps’ aggressive approach can lead to service errors that stymie scoring runs and provide opponents with critical points in back-and-forth sets.
On Sunday, however, Maryland was uncharacteristically clean from the endline. Its tidiness paid dividends. The Terps committed a season-low four service errors and notched eight aces throughout their 3-0 win over Howard in Washington, D.C., to polish off an undefeated weekend at the Maryland Tournament.
Maryland’s signature balanced attack was efficient — four players finished with at least five kills to pair with the discipline in the service game. Sam Csire’s nine kills and Lilly Gunter’s five aces led the Terps, who hit .438 and commited just 12 errors overall.
“I think the hard part as a coach is sometimes you’re just looking for this, like, so-called starting lineup,” coach Adam Hughes said, “but I think we’ve embraced that we’ve got a lot of weapons.”
Maryland (7-2) finished with just two more kills than the Bison but routinely laid off of Howard’s erratic offerings and watched the Bison spew 11 service errors against just two aces.
The Terps’ explosive offense took charge after Hughes’ team fell behind 9-6 and gashed Howard (3-6) in the first set. Middle blockers Anastasia Russ and Eva Rohrbach combined for seven kills, while Csire, Laila Ricks and Laila Ivey each burned the Bison with a pair of putaways from the wing.
Csire’s second spike sealed yet another efficient set in the Maryland Tournament for the Terps, who hit .423 and surrendered just four kills throughout their 19-8 surge to grab the game’s opening frame, 25-17. The senior outside hitter finished with a team-high nine kills, leaving her 14 putaways shy of 1,000 for her career.
Maryland used its depth to mount its own three point lead to open the second stanza — reserves Ellie Watson and Sydney Bryant each notched two spikes. But the latter’s consecutive attack errors exposed the Terps to a quartet of putaways by Rya McKinnon that temporarily flipped the frame in favor of the Bison.
“I thought it was a pretty poor defensive effort,” Hughes said. “I thought we let a bunch of balls get away from us that we probably could have taken care of.”
Maryland pulled even at 12-12 on Gunter’s ace and later used Bryant’s third putaway of the stanza to keep the pressure on the Bison until they melted down in the set’s most heated stage.
Howard’s Kayla Diaz marched to the end line with her team behind 20-19 but misfired on her serve, an error that stung twice as much when Gunter whistled her fourth ace past the Bison on the ensuing point.
Jennifer Bolden and McKinnon each gave the Terps critical points on errors before Csire clubbed Maryland’s only kill during a 5-1 run that clinched a 25-20 triumph.
“I think we’re close enough that we just, we really trust each other in those tough moments,” Bryant said. “And we trust that our teammates are going to support us and we’re going to support them.”
And with just one set separating the Terps from their second-straight sweep, Hughes’ squad fused a well-rounded attack with its collective hot hand at the end line to hammer Howard down the stretch.
Rohrbach’s eighth putaway ignited another scoring spree — this one, a run of six straight points that zipped up Maryland’s first road win in three tries this season.