Volleyball Holds Serve in Greenbelt Invitational
Sept. 8, 2007
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland volleyball team won its second consecutive pre-conference-season invitational on Saturday night, knocking off the visiting Temple Owls in four games (30-27, 30-21, 26-30, 30-22), and ran its winning streak to six in the process.
Last weekend, the Terrapins (8-1) won the Virginia Commonwealth Invitational, but had to go the full five games in victories over Liberty, South Carolina and VCU. However, playing on their home court for the first time this season, the Terps played inspired ball in front of the supportive fans gathered at the Comcast Center Pavilion.
Maryland head coach Janice Kruger cited an improved defensive effort from the previous two weeks.
"I thought the defensive effort was the best I have seen all year," she said. "We really made that extra effort to get on the ground for every ball and protect our home court."
The Terps came out hitting on all cylinders in the first game, refusing to overlook a Temple (3-8) team that had been swept in its previous two matches against New Hampshire and James Madison.
Maryland went up 18-7 on back-to-back-to-back kills by freshman outside hitter Michelle Kenning (Cincinnati, Ohio). Temple did respond, eventually getting as close as 29-27 in the closing stages, but it had already fallen too far behind and a Mary Beth Brown (Vienna, Va.) kill from Hayley Hanson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) put an end to any comeback hopes from the Owls.
Kenning registered six kills in the first game alone and finished with a team-high 13 in her second career start.
The second game began much like the first, with the Terps grabbing a quick double-digit lead, 14-4. The Owls never made a run this time, however, and Maryland won by nine.
The Terps appeared poised for their third consecutive sweep of the weekend, leading 23-18 late in game three, but the Owls wouldn't run away and hide, rallying for a four-point win. It was the first match of the weekend that didn't result in a three-game sweep.
Up 13-10 in the fourth game, Kenning again played a key role in a big Maryland run, recording block assists with Katie Usher (Vienna, Va.) on two of the next four points, which all went to the Terps. There was no Temple comeback this time and Maryland took the victory.
With the emergence of Kenning this weekend, the Terps' already deep outside hitting situation just got that much better, especially considering the increased playing time seen by sophomore Ashley Hogan (Northern Cambria, Pa.).
"It's nice to have different players to look to in that role," Kruger said. "The only difference between the starting group is ball-control and game experience at this level. But people like Kenning and Hogan are skilled players. They just need to continue developing those skills for the collegiate game."
The Terps placed three players on the all-tournament team, with senior Beth Gillming (Cincinnati, Ohio) winning most valuable player honors. Senior Jade Brown and junior Maggie Schmelzle also made the team.
Gillming recorded eight kills and a match-high 15 digs against Temple. After fighting a minor injury early in the season, Jade Brown showcased the explosiveness that has earned her back-to-back second-team all-ACC honors and a preseason nod this year. Brown notched 12 kills on .364 hitting and paced the team with six blocks, three solos and three assists. Schmelzle had seven kills on only 12 attempts against the Owls.
Usher reached double digits in kills as well, recording 11 to go with three blocks in the Terps' middle.
Hanson and Rachel Profit (Washington, D.C.) continued to split the setting duties. Hanson led the Terps in assists with 27 while Profit had 20.
Temple's Patricia Vernon led all players with 14 kills.
The Temple match allowed a couple players to see action for the first time this season. Christina Paul (North Bethesda, Md.), Kathleen Wilson (Lake Orion, Mich.) and Inge Rasmussen (Darnestown, Md.) all played for the first time this year. All 15 of the Terps' healthy players got into the match, with junior Tedi Doucet (Austin, Texas) sitting out with a foot injury for the second straight weekend.
Next weekend, the Terps begin their 22-match Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with a Saturday afternoon match at Boston College.
Kruger was encouraged by what she saw this weekend with conference play looming.
"Friday night's play was probably the best of the season and that standard is where I want to try and hold them and then I want to go one step above that," she said. "We now know what we can do and what we can't do and we have to get in the gym and practice and work on the things we need to work on to get better. But I expect us to be competitive in the conference."
Hilton Garden Inn Greenbelt Invitational All-Tournament Team