College volleyball: Undefeated Maryland takes down No. 18 USC in straight sets
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Outside hitters Gia Milana and Erika Pritchard each had 12 kills as the Maryland volleyball team (10-0) defeated No. 18 Southern California (7-3) in straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-21) Thursday evening in the Maryland Challenge.
“It was a great win for our program. It’s been a lot of years of hard work to put us in a position to have success,” head coach Steve Aird said. “We know we have bigger goals that we want to achieve, so we’ll get back to work on the court tomorrow against two good opponents.”
The win over USC was Aird’s third career victory over a ranked team as a head coach and first over a nonconference opponent. It was also the first time Maryland has won a set, as well as a match, over the Trojans in program history.
Maryland’s 10-0 record is the program’s best start to a season since 2005, when the Terps began the year 14-0.
Milana added 14 digs for her fourth double-double of the season while junior libero Kelsey Wicinski tied for the match lead with 16 digs. Senior middle blocker Hailey Murray, redshirt freshman middle Katie Myers and junior opposite Angel Gaskin each posted four blocks.
Wicinski tallied 10 digs and Pritchard notched seven kills in the first set. The Terps took a quick 3-0 lead but USC tied the set, 7-7. Pritchard knocked down three straight kills to help force a Trojans timeout with Maryland ahead 15-11. USC came within one point, 20-19, but kills from Samantha Drechsel and Hailey Murray pushed the Terps to 22-19. Myers had a solo block to get Maryland to set point, and Pritchard notched the set-winning kill, 25-22.
The Trojans took advantage of Maryland errors to take a 10-5 lead in set two. Milana posted three kills to help the Terps come back and tie the set, 18-18. The teams traded points late in the game, and USC took a 23-22 lead. Maryland was able to put together three straight points, including a Gaskin-Myers block to win the set, 25-23.
The Terps controlled the third set from the opening serve as a serving run from Abigail Bentz helped Maryland to a 9-4 lead. The Trojans were able to tie the set twice, at 15-15 and at 16-16, but Maryland’s middles gave the Terrapins a 19-17 lead. Pritchard had a kill and combined for a block with Myers to get to match point, 24-21. The duo worked together again to pick up the match-winning block, 25-21.
With her first dig of the match, Wicinski reached 1,000 career digs. She is the 11th Terp in program history to reach the mark.
The Terps return to the court for the second day of the Maryland Challenge Friday. The Terrapins will face Oklahoma at 11 a.m. before closing the tournament against No. 7 Washington at 7 p.m. The Huskies defeated the Sooners in three sets on Thursday.