The line to enter the Pavilion on Friday night stretched through the entire Xfinity Center hallway over an hour before Maryland took the court against No. 2 Wisconsin.
The match had sold out days ahead of the Terps’ first home game against the Badgers since stunning then-No. 2 Wisconsin two seasons ago.
Maryland fans packed the bleachers hoping for another titanic upset. Their team validated none of those aspirations. The Terps looked outmatched from the opening serve and never led at any point throughout their 3-0 loss to the second-ranked Badgers in College Park.
Wisconsin (23-1, 14-1 Big Ten) was nearly flawless. The Badgers clobbered 41 kills and finished with just one error. They blocked Maryland 13 times and skipped seven aces past the Terps (15-12, 5-10 Big Ten), who have been swept in their last three matches.
“If I had to guess, we probably had Wisconsin’s attention from the last time they played in the Pavilion,” coach Adam Hughes said. “ … They played incredibly well.”
Friday’s first set was a slaughter.
Wisconsin scored the first 10 points and stormed ahead 20-2 to silence the sold-out crowd. The Badgers’ defense was ferocious even without 6-foot-9 Anna Smrek, who didn’t travel with the team. Wisconsin racked up five blocks before Maryland found its first kill, which left the Terps trailing 16-2.
Outside hitter Sydney Bryant struggled in her first career start for Maryland. The freshman couldn’t sneak her shots around 6-foot-7 Carter Booth, who blocked her twice within the game’s first seven points. Hughes subbed out Bryant after she was stymied for a third time — she finished the match without a kill.
“I took her aside and I was like, ‘Hey, try to reset — get out of your head,’” outside hitter Sam Csire said. “There’s not anything perfect that you can say to someone who’s struggling like that, but I tell her all the time, ‘I got your back.’”
Csire was the Terps’ lone catalyst on offense — she scratched across five kills late in the first set and finished with a match-high 15 putaways.
Hughes had one fewer offensive weapon available than usual, as outside hitter Laila Ivey missed Friday with an ankle injury she suffered during warmups last Sunday at Michigan. She watched her team’s dismantling from the bench with a walking boot on her right foot.
Hughes called on Erin Morrissey in relief, but Maryland’s deficit had grown too large to overcome. Wisconsin complemented its suffocating defense with an 11-kill, error-free frame on the attack to steamroll past the Terps, 25-10.
“They hit really well, but … We need to be a little bit more disciplined in our block,” Csire said.
She and Eva Rohrbach combined for the team’s lone block against the Badgers, who registered kills on over half of their attacks.
Maryland again sleepwalked early in a set as Wisconsin darted ahead 5-0 in the second frame. Devyn Robinson mashed three kills to help the visitors take eight of the set’s first 10 points, enough space for the Badgers to trade points with the Terps throughout the rest of the frame. Csire pulled Maryland within four points at 12-8, but the Terps looked overmatched against Wisconsin’s remarkably clean attack.
The Badgers fed Booth in the middle and occasionally swung the ball wide to Sarah Franklin as the duo supplied a cluster of kills to bring Wisconsin within two points of a two-set lead. Maryland dug in and cut its deficit to 23-21 on Csire’s ace, drawing a Badgers timeout as the restless crowd simmered.
Franklin promptly quieted the Terps’ anxious fans with two more kills that put Wisconsin at 30 putaways without an unforced attack error through two sets.
“To be able to hit that many balls into a zone is very, very impressive,” Hughes said. “Some teams can’t do that in warm-ups.
Hughes’ squad has struggled this season with starting well in third sets after falling behind 2-0. Friday prolonged that flaw.
Caroline Crawford smothered four straight Maryland spikes amid a Wisconsin onslaught that blasted the Badgers ahead 11-1. The Terps never got closer as their swarm of once-spirited fans somberly shuffled out of the Pavilion just as quickly as they filed in.