“I was really pleased with the grit that our young team showed,” head coach Steve Aird said. “That’s the No. 16 team in the country – I think they proved their talent by coming back and battling to win the match. Our kids fought hard tonight. We got young a little bit at the end of the fifth set, but they’re getting great experience. I was really proud of how they fought to the end.”
Freshman outside hitter Gia Milana led the match and set a new career-high with 22 kills while hitting a .231 clip and sophomore opposite Angel Gaskin hit down 11 kills. Sophomore libero Kelsey Wicinski led the match with 26 digs while senior middle blocker Ashlyn MacGregor tallied nine blocks.
The Terps hit .210 in the match, marking their highest hitting percentage in Big Ten play this season. Maryland posted 12.5 total blocks vs. the Wolverines.
Kills from MacGregor, Smith and Milana started the Terps up 3-0 in the first set. The teams traded points to stay within one or tied for most of the set until a service ace from Megan McTigue forced a Michigan timeout at 18-17. Milana notched three kills to force another Wolverine timeout at 21-18. Smith, MacGregor and Milana combined for a block at 22-19, and Milana posted one more kill at 23-20. Michigan fought off two Maryland set points before a Wolverine service error closed it, 25-21.
Maryland started the second set on a 9-1 run, thanks to strong serving from Smith and a block from Gaskin and MacGregor. The Wolverines fought back to tie it, 10-10, and the teams remained closely matched until a Gaskin solo block put the Terps ahead, 18-16. McTigue and Hailey Murray each posted late kills and combined for a block to put Maryland up, 22-19. Michigan again closed the set on a service error as the Terrapins went ahead in the match with a 25-21 game win.
The Wolverines came out of the break and took an 8-4 lead in the third set. A Milana kill pulled the Terps within two at 13-11 but Michigan was able to pull away again as Maryland called timeout down at 20-15. Murray, Milana and MacGregor posted late kills, but Michigan finished the set, 25-18.
The Wolverines handled the Terps in the fourth set to tie the match. Michigan started with a 13-3 advantage. Maryland tried to fight back as Murray and McTigue slammed kills, and Murray combined with Smith for a block down 18-10. Gaskin notched two kills late in the set, but the Wolverines won, 25-14.
The teams tied 11 times and traded the lead six times as they fought for set five. Gaskin and Milana led the Terps with kills early, but Maryland called timeout trailing 11-10. MacGregor combined with Smith and then Milana for two straight blocks as Maryland retook the lead, 12-11. McTigue and MacGregor notched a block as the Terps reached match point, 15-14, but the Wolverines tied it with a block of their own. MacGregor put Maryland back at match point, 16-15, with a kill, but Michigan tied again with a kill. A pair of Maryland errors allowed the Wolverines to take an 18-16 set win and the match, 3-2.
Maryland heads back on the road to take on Rutgers (4-18, 0-9) on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both teams are searching for their first conference win this year.