Terps Beat Northwestern in Five-Set Thriller

Maryland Athletics
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CHICAGO – Five Terps knocked down double-digit kills as the Maryland volleyball team (14-5, 3-4 B1G) came from behind twice in the match to beat Northwestern (12-7, 2-5) in five sets (34-36, 25-23, 24-26, 25-22, 17-15) Friday evening at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

“I’m really proud of the team for battling tonight against an experienced team on the road,” head coach Steve Aird said. “I thought our young players really stepped up tonight and found a way to win.”

Sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana had 21 kills and freshman opposite Samantha Drechsel notched 12. Freshman outside Erika Pritchard and junior opposite Angel Gaskin each tallied 11 while senior middle blocker Hailey Murray posted 10 kills.

The teams went through a gauntlet in the first set, tying 16 times and trading leads four times. A 6-0 run from the Terps put them ahead 10-7, and Maryland worked ahead to a 17-12 advantage. A 6-1 run brought the Wildcats within one, 19-18. The teams traded points before Maryland earned its first set point on a Drechsel kill, 24-22. The Terps and Wildcats combined for 11 set point attempts, with Maryland earning its last chance on a Pritchard kill, 34-33. Northwestern was able to string together three points to take the set, 36-34. 

Milana, Gaskin and Pritchard all had a pair of early kills as Maryland went ahead 9-6 in the second. Pritchard had a solo block and a kill to push the lead to 17-12. A 5-0 Northwestern tied the set, 18-18, but Jada Gardner knocked down a kill before combining with Gaskin for a block to put Maryland up 22-20. A Gaskin kill put the Terrapins at set point, and Pritchard posted another solo stuff to win, 25-23.

The Wildcats started the third with a 5-1 run but Murray responded with a strong performance at the service line to take the lead, 7-5. Another service run from the senior put the Terps up 18-16. Maryland reached set point on a Samantha Snyder ace, 24-21, but Northwestern responded with five straight to steal the set, 26-24. 

With the match on the line, the Terrapins started the fourth on a 6-2 run. Gaskin had two kills to keep Maryland ahead, 10-7, but a 5-1 run gave Northwestern a 16-15 advantage. The Terps strung together five straight, including another Pritchard block, to retake the lead, 21-17. After a 3-0 run from the home team kept Maryland at 23 points, Milana posted a kill and a Gardner-Drechsel tied the match, 25-22.

The teams fought in the fifth set, staying close for the first seven points before Northwestern notched four points to go ahead 11-7 and force a Maryland timeout. Snyder had a service ace and Drechsel posted a kill as the Terps worked back to tie, 11-11. The Terrapins had three match point opportunities before Gardner was able to get an overpass kill to win the set, 17-15, and take tha match.

Numerous Terps had career highs vs. the Wildcats. Pritchard had a career-high 13 digs for the first double-double of her career. Milana also had a double-double with 11 digs.

Freshman Samantha Burgio made her first appearance at libero and tallied a personal-best 19 digs. Murray served a career-high four aces and Gardner had a personal-high six blocks. Snyder dished out career-best 40 assists.

The Terps and Wildcats will face each other again when Northwestern comes to College Park on Nov. 24 for the teams’ final regular-season match.

Maryland is back in action at Illinois Saturday at 8 p.m. The Illini swept Ohio State on Friday evening.