Bekka Allick and Merritt Beason smothered a spike from Sam Csire for a block that continued Maryland volleyball’s nightmarish start to the third set.
The Terps surrendered the first eight points of the stanza, quickly washing away any chance they had of chipping away at an already imposing two-set deficit on the road against the nation’s top-ranked team.
Maryland’s miserable third set epitomized Friday’s match in Lincoln, one the Terps never settled into en route to a 3-0 loss to the No. 1 Cornhuskers.
“Our defensive effort was actually pretty solid,” coach Adam Hughes said. “We just had trouble putting some balls away. You got to find a balance of being aggressive because if you don’t, they’re able to turn and burn and score.”
Maryland (14-9, 4-7 Big Ten) has been swept in all three of its road matches this season against ranked opponents.
The Terps relied on their defense to hang with the nation’s top team early in the first set. A pair of blocks, the latter a tag-team stuff from Sydney Dowler and Anastasia Russ, kept Maryland even at 8. But Nebraska (20-0, 11-0 Big Ten) began easily zipping spikes past the Terps’ block while Maryland’s offense continued to lag.
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Four different scorers powered a 7-1 run that opened up the frame for Nebraska, which pummeled kills on more than half of its swings in the first set. Samantha Schnitta’s four putaways were the Terps’ only source of offense as they struggled to snap into any kind of rhythm.
“At times we got a little hesitant,” said Csire, who led Maryland with seven kills in the match. “We weren’t very intentful with our shots.”
The Terps’ growing deficit forced them to serve aggressively, but their risky offerings yielded no reward. Maryland committed five service errors while Lilly Gunter supplied the Terps’ lone ace early in the opening set, one where the Cornhuskers smacked 19 kills to win 25-19.
Serving continued to flummox Maryland in the second set. The Terps helplessly watched a pair of Cornhusker offerings clip the net before skipping over for aces as the home team quickly shot ahead. Hughes’ timeout settled the set after Maryland fell behind 12-4 as Nebraska kept the Terps alive with a handful of errors.
But Maryland still couldn’t find clean swings from the center of the court — Russ and fellow middle blocker Eva Rohrbach combined for just four putaways on 15 swings throughout the night.
“We could have gotten the middles going a little bit more than we did,” Hughes said. “But the hard part is the numbers are probably more in transition. We weren’t able to get as many quality digs as they did.”
The Cornhuskers began to bottle up Schnitta, who logged just one putaway in the second stanza. The Terps’ defense stiffened in the second frame, holding Nebraska to six fewer kills than the first. But Maryland’s attack never capitalized. The Terps’ six-point deficit bled to nine following a trio of kills from Andi Jackson as the set closed.
“That’s one of the things that’s challenging playing [at Nebraska],” Hughes said. “They can go on big runs and then the crowd gets into it, and it puts the pressure on you … That’s not an easy place to play.”
For the second straight frame, Maryland’s eight putaways were no challenge to Nebraska, which collected an eight-point win to jump ahead 2-0.
The Terps — already sinking amid a two-set deficit — quickly capsized in the third frame. Maryland compounded its putrid five-kill output with nine attack errors and trailed by as many as 16 points. Harper Murray’s match-leading 16th and final putaway of the night dismissed the Terps from their latest straight-set road loss against a top-tier foe.