COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Junior libero Kelsey Wicinski led the match in kills for the fifth straight match as the Maryland volleyball team (13-5, 2-4 B1G) dropped to third-ranked Penn State (15-1, 5-1) in three sets (25-17, 25-11, 25-23) Saturday in the XFINITY Center.
“We had an incredible atmosphere tonight, and it was great to see how much volleyball matters now at Maryland,” head coach Steve Aird said. “Penn State is an elite, veteran team, and they did some really exceptional things tonight. I liked how our team responded in the third set and I think this is a great learning experience for us.”
The Terps hosted 4,127 fans against Penn State, which is the third highest attendance in program history. Since becoming head coach, Aird and his staff have been instrumental in Maryland setting six of the top-10 attendance records in just four seasons.
Wicinski notched 13 digs, and currently leads the Big Ten with 4.78 digs per set. Outside hitters Gia Milana and Erika Pritchard paced Maryland with nine kills each. Freshman opposite Samantha Drechsel led the Terps with three blocks, including two solo.
Milana had two kills and a service ace early in the match before a 6-2 run put Penn State ahead 16-11. Milana had three more kills in the set, but seven attack errors and five service errors from the Terps helped the Nittany Lions take the first set, 25-17.
The Terps got caught in a rotation in the second set as Penn State used a 10-0 run to go up 15-4. Pritchard served an ace and Hailey Murray had a pair of kills, but more errors from Maryland put Penn State up 20-11. Another strong serving run from the Nittany Lions gave them a 5-0 run to end the set, 25-11.
Maryland fought back in the third set as the Terps held the visitors to a .184 hitting percentage. Drechsel set the tone early with back-to-back solo blocks and Milana notched another ace. Drechsel combined with Murray on a block and followed with a kill as the Terrapins went ahead, 8-4. The Nittany Lions worked back to tie, and the teams tied eight times through the middle of the game. Wicinski served an ace to put Maryland up 22-21 and Milana notched her final kill. After a ball handling error from the Terps, Penn State tallied three straight blocks to end the match, 25-23.
The Terps are back on the road next weekend at Northwestern on Friday and at Illinois on Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for 8 p.m. starts.