UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana led the match with 14 kills but No. 1 Penn State was able to take a three-set win (25-14, 25-21, 25-16) over the Maryland volleyball team on Saturday evening.
“I thought we served tough and played hard tonight,” head coach Steve Aird. “Penn State is really experienced and talented, and they do a lot well. I was proud of our squad for continuing to compete in the match.”
Freshman outside Erika Pritchard also reached double-digit kills with 10. The Terps held a 34-31 advantage in kills, but Penn State had 13.0 blocks to control the match.
The top-ranked Nittany Lions were the fifth straight ranked opponent for the Terps, including the fourth straight top-10 opponent on the road. So far this season, Maryland has competed in 12 matches against ranked teams and eight matches against top-10 teams.
Penn State used three big runs to handle the first set. After PSU started out 4-0, Maryland was able to pull within three, 9-6. Another 4-0 run pushed the Nittany Lions ahead 16-8, but Samantha Drechsel had a pair of kills and Pritchard combined with Jada Gardner for a block, but Penn State closed the set with a 5-0 run, all Maryland errors, 25-14.
The Nittany Lions used seven blocks in the second set to help take a 2-0 match lead. A Gardner-Pritchard block and a Milana kill helped the Terps stay within two, 8-6, before a 3-0 run pushed the home team ahead 13-7. Another run put Penn State at 17-10 before kills from Milana, Angel Gaskin and Pritchard pulled Maryland within four, 19-15. The teams traded points, and with Penn State at set point, Gardner extended the game with a solo block before the Nittany Lions finished it, 25-21.
A solo block from Drechsel gave Maryland its first lead, 10-9, in the third set. The Terps stayed close, but took a timeout with PSU leading 15-12. Milana notched two kills but the Nittany Lions got to 19-14. Hailey Murray and Milana posted a block at 19-16, before a 6-0 run finished the game, 25-16.
The Terps return to the XFINITY Center Pavilion for the final two weeks of the regular season. Maryland hosts Iowa and No. 6 Nebraska next Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.