Maryland volleyball coach Adam Hughes was well aware of the challenges Purdue outside hitter Eva Hudson presented his team ahead of its Big Ten opener against the No. 19 Boilermakers.
He and his players almost certainly emphasized the importance of limiting her sizzling right-handed swing from the outside.
Unfortunately for the Terps, Hudson delivered.
The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year gashed Maryland with 20 kills and Purdue’s defense fended off a well-rounded Terps attack as the Boilermakers chugged past Maryland 3-1 in College Park Friday night. The game was the first Big Ten matchup for both teams; the Terps have now lost their last two conference openers.
“The nice thing is you go in the locker room and the team’s disappointed,” Hughes said. “A couple years ago … we would have been glad we’re fighting with teams like that. Now we feel like we can belong with any of those guys.”
Freshman Chloe Chicoine complemented Hudson with 12 putaways for Purdue (7-3, 1-0 Big Ten), which racked up 13 blocks despite being out-killed 53-48.
Ole Miss transfer Samantha Schnitta led Maryland (10-3, 0-1 Big Ten) with 16 kills off the bench in her Big Ten debut. Sam Csire added 11 and Laila Ivey chipped in 10. Hughes’ squad scattered a season-high 29 attack errors and surrendered five service aces, including two in the first set as the Boilermakers struck first.
Hudson connected for Purdue’s first four kills while Raven Colvin snuck a pair of serves past the Terps to vault the visitors ahead 10-7 in the opening set.
Eva Rohrbach and Sydney Dowler jolted the Xfinity Center Pavilion crowd with a block each that pulled Maryland even at 10, but the Terps’ inconsistent serving left its crimson-clad supporters with little to cheer for down the stretch.
Maryland weathered misfires from Csire and Erin Engel to keep within 17-16. But Laila Ricks’ miscue catalyzed a Boilermakers surge that slammed the door on Purdue’s 25-20 win.
“I thought she was a beast out of the gate,” Hughes said of Hudson, who had seven kills in the opening set. “… She was scoring in front, she was scoring in the back row … When she’s going in different directions, you start getting into a game of trying to be spread [out] a little bit.”
Already struggling to contain Hudson, the Terps lost their grip on Chicoine, the other half of the Boilermakers’ elite outside hitting tandem. She pelted four putaways to complement Hudson’s hot hand as Purdue crafted a 19-15 advantage. But Maryland, playing catch-up deep into the second set, surged back behind its own star outside hitter.
Csire pounded consecutive kills, the latter of which came on the evening’s longest rally and summoned the crowd’s loudest cheer. The Boilermakers retreated to their bench to regroup, now only ahead 21-20. Schnitta notched her first clutch Big Ten kill on the subsequent point before a rare Hudson misfire put Maryland ahead.
But the Terps couldn’t hold on.
Hudson responded with her eighth putaway of the stanza, the first of three straight critical Purdue points. Schnitta’s third kill kept Maryland alive at 24-23, but Colvin soared off of her right foot and belted her third kill of the evening to double the Terps’ deficit.
Down 2-0 for just the third time all season, Maryland relied on depth and defense to crawl back into the match. Schnitta blew eight kills by the Boilermakers as the Terps limited Hudson to just two putaways en route to a smooth 25-17 triumph.
“There’s no film on me in the Big Ten,” Schnitta said. “Nobody knows my name … So I took that aggression out there on the court, and clearly they had some struggles with it.”
Unfazed, Purdue ripped off the first eight points of the fourth set. Even with multiple early timeouts by Hughes, Maryland never truly rallied. Hudson tacked on three more kills as the Boilermakers hit .611 compared to the Terps’ .000 in a 25-11 rout that extinguished any hopes for Maryland to notch a statement conference victory.