Penn State led by nine in the second set when Taylor Trammel positioned herself at the center of the net as Maryland volleyball failed to return Jess Mruzik’s serve cleanly.
A diving reception by the Terps popped the ball right to Trammel, who easily batted the ball with two hands down on Maryland’s side of the net to give the Nittany Lions their first double-digit lead of the stanza.
Mruzik’s offering on the ensuing point clipped the net and beat another diving Terp to the court for Penn State’s eighth ace of the match, further solidifying the Nittany Lions’ commanding advantage.
The two-point sequence encapsulated Maryland’s miserable evening, one in which No. 14 Penn State clubbed 39 kills and bombarded the Terps with 14 aces en route to a dominant 3-0 sweep on Wednesday in College Park.
“It’s that kind of hot-potato mentality when someone next to you is not really confident, it kind of hurts you in other categories,” coach Adam Hughes said. “I’m not sure we’ve had that poor of a serve receive match this season.”
Maryland (16-15, 6-13 Big Ten) has lost its last 25 matches against the Nittany Lions. The Terps haven’t defeated Penn State since 1983 and are winless in 15 Big Ten meetings with the Nittany Lions.
Both squads looked sharp amid a flurry of long rallies in the early stages of the first set. Maryland effectively zipped spikes past Penn State from the right pin, while the Nittany Lions parried with a pair of blocks at the other end of the net.
The Terps had no answer for Zoe Weatherington, who laced six kills in the set without committing an error from the right side.
The teams split the frame’s first 20 points before a brief drought from Maryland’s attack fueled a five-point run that put Penn State ahead 15-10. Anastasia Russ’ putaway dwindled the Terps’ deficit to 19-17, but Maryland’s serve receive crumbled too frequently for the Terps to pull any closer.
Maryland surrendered four aces, all of which came after the set was tied at 10. Two of those came amid a 5-1 Nittany Lions surge that all but sealed Penn State’s 25-20 victory.
“We tried to go with a number of [defenders] to see if we could get someone who could just steady us out, and we couldn’t find a solution,” Hughes said.
The Nittany Lions (20-8, 14-5 Big Ten) overwhelmed Hughes’ squad regardless of how the visitors got the ball over the net in the second frame. Camryn Hannah quickly tormented the Terps with three kills from the outside and tacked on two aces as Maryland called its second timeout of the set trailing 13-6. Hannah finished with a game-high 15 kills on Wednesday.
Pausing the frame did little to slow Penn State. Weatherington tallied her first kill of the stanza out of the Terps’ second timeout to ignite an 8-2 surge that blew the Nittany Lions’ advantage wide open.
“At this stage in the game, it’s late in the year, you’re kind of hoping you can keep pushing,” Hughes said. “… I didn’t think we had enough compete to get ourselves back into it.”
Mruzik sandwiched a pair of aces around Trammel’s second putaway of the set to close the run, which grew Penn State’s lead to 18-7. The Nittany Lions pounded 13 putaways on just 20 swings and finished with one error in the frame.
Maryland’s offense was dormant throughout the second set, washing its scant five kills with five errors as the Nittany Lions steamrolled to a 25-9 win.
“We weren’t able to slow them down, and we weren’t able to pass enough to get any offense going,” Hughes said.
The onslaught flooded over into the third set as Penn State spun five more aces to blast ahead 14-2. The Terps scratched across just seven kills in the final frame amid a 25-12 drubbing that prolonged Maryland’s drought against Penn State, one that now spans four decades.