LYNCHBURG, Va. – Sparked by freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard’s success on the serving line, the Maryland volleyball team (5-0) defeated Elon (3-3) in four sets (25-11, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19) Saturday morning in the Liberty Invitational.
Pritchard served seven aces in the match, including five in the fourth set when the Terps came from behind to take the game. She also notched 14 kills on a .414 clip and five digs.
“I think we got off to a really good start, but we lost a little bit of the juice later in the match,” head coach Steve Aird said. “We were able to get back in it and serve tough to get the win.”
Sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana led the match with 15 kills (.361 hitting pct.). Junior libero Kelsey Wicinski led the match with 22 digs while redshirt freshman middle Katie Myers led with six blocks.
Milana led Maryland with six kills in the first set as the Terrapins hit .684 in the opening game. Samantha Snyder, Pritchard and Myers got early service aces as the Terps went ahead 9-2. Taylor Smith had a strong serving run, highlighted by two blocks from Hailey Murray as Maryland increased its lead to 16-3. An Elon attack error got the Terps to set point, 24-11, and Milana knocked down the game-winning kill.
The teams tied nine times in the second set as the Phoenix were able to tie the match. Milana posted six kills in the set, including back-to-back kills to put Maryland ahead 17-14. Late errors from the Terps helped Elon tie, 22-22, and the teams tied again at 23-23. Maryland errors gave the Phoenix the 25-23 set win.
Pritchard went off for seven kills in the third set to help the Terps retake the match lead. Maryland and Elon traded points for the first half of the set before two straight kills from Pritchard gave the Terrapins a 20-18 lead. Myers combined for back-to-back blocks with Jada Gardner and Pritchard to push the lead to 23-19. A Pritchard kill got the Terps to set point, 24-20, and Milana again notched the set-winning kill, 25-21.
The Terps used a 12-0 run late in the fourth set to take the match, led by Pritchard’s serving. Elon took the lead from the first serve and went ahead 17-12. Five aces from Pritchard, a Myers-Milana block and Elon errors helped Maryland take the lead and reach match point, 24-17. The Phoenix extended the set twice before the Terps were able to end the game, 25-19.
Freshman Jada Gardner saw her first action as a Terp at opposite and finished with four kills and two blocks. Junior outside hitter Liz Twilley and junior setter Abigail Bentz competed in their first matches of the season.
The Terps finish the Liberty Invitational against Furman at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.