Maryland volleyball’s offense had carried the Terps throughout one of their best starts in Big Ten play. Coach Adam Hughes’ squad has averaged over 13 kills per set this year and won two of its first three Big Ten clashes for the first time since joining the conference in 2014.

But that potent attack didn’t accompany the Terps’ in their biggest road test so far this season. Maryland managed just 20 kills and spewed 30 attack errors as the Terps crumbled after two competitive frames and fell to No. 22 Ohio State 3-0 on Sunday in Columbus.

“If you told me going into it, ‘Hey, [Ohio State is] gonna hit, like, .110 going into the third [set],’ I’d be like, ‘Hey, I’ll take that all day. We’re gonna win this match,’” Hughes said. “But that was the worst offensive performance we’ve had.”

Laila Ivey and Anastasia Russ led Maryland (12-4, 2-2 Big Ten) with five kills apiece. The Terps registered their season-low in kills and never hit better than .000 in any set. They finished with a negative hitting percentage for the first time since September 2021.

Aces and replay reviews decided a first set that featured a slew of errors from both sides. Neither team hit above 0.000.

[Samantha Schnitta has flourished in her first Big Ten games for Maryland volleyball]

Maryland appeared to even the set at seven on Ivey’s first kill, but an official’s review flipped her spike to an error and awarded the Buckeyes a two-point edge. They scored the next three points to force a Terps timeout after Sarah Sue Morbitzer’s ace made it 11-6.

Ohio State (5-8, 2-2 Big Ten) again benefitted from a replay challenge when Eloise Brandewie’s error was overturned to a kill amid another four-point Buckeye burst that grew the lead to six.

Ohio State dumped two more aces throughout another surge that ballooned their advantage to 23-16, but Maryland stormed back behind Russ. She hammered down two putaways and chipped in a block as the Terps pulled within a point at 24-23.

But Maryland’s inconsistency surfaced one final time when Samantha Schnitta misfired for the Terps’ ninth attack error to seal the Buckeyes’ 25-23 victory.

“You can’t give that many free points,” Hughes said.

The sloppiness spilled over into the second set. Neither squad produced a kill until Emily Londot’s fifth of the match put the Terps in a 7-5 hole.

After being shut out in the first frame, Ohio native Sam Csire warmed up from the outside and kept Maryland hanging in the second stanza with four kills. Her final putaway of the set capped a four-point run that knotted the frame at 20 apiece.

[Maryland volleyball claims first Big Ten road win with 3-1 victory over Rutgers]

But once again, Ohio State’s service game and an overturned call did the Terps in.

Morbitzer’s second ace gave the Buckeyes a crucial 23-21 lead before the teams traded the next two scores, giving Ohio State a trio of set points to work with.

Maryland seemingly staved off the first of those after a Londot spike sailed past the endline until Buckeyes coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg pulled out the green card. Moments later, Ohio State had cashed in its third successful challenge of the day to leave the Terps a set away from being swept.

“Every time we felt like we were getting some momentum back, something happened,” Hughes said. “…I thought they got a couple breaks their way, but sometimes that happens when things are going well for you.”

After losing two sets by a combined five points, Maryland quickly disintegrated in the third frame. Hughes called upon reserves Erin Morrissey and Laila Ricks to kickstart the Terps’ sputtering attack, but neither delivered the jolt Maryland needed.

Londot pummeled five more kills as the Buckeyes seized command of the set. Ohio State held the Terps to a ghastly two-kill, 11-error output throughout a 25-12 bludgeoning.