Iowa volleyball swept by Maryland in two-game series

Iowa lost a close four set match on Friday before getting overpowered in Saturday’s match at Maryland.


Casey Stone

Iowa Middle Blocker Hannah Clayton hits the ball over the net during the Iowa Volleyball game against Indiana on Feb. 6, 2021 at Xtream Arena. Indiana defeated Iowa 3-2.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball did not get the job done against Maryland on the road — it dropped both matches in four sets or less this weekend.

After the week off due to COVID-19 in the Wisconsin volleyball program, the Hawkeyes played Maryland within striking distance in every set on Friday, but the Terrapins completely outplayed Iowa in Saturday’s match.

Junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton’s .500 hitting percentage and junior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio’s 13-kill and 15-assist double-double were not enough for the Hawkeyes Saturday, as they lost the match in straight sets.

With the performance Saturday, Clayton has now hit over .400 in four of her last five matches.

“Clayton and Buzzerio have continuously shown they can take charge of the match,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said in a release. “Not only on the stat line but with good leadership.”

The first set on Saturday was neck and neck until Maryland went on a 6-1 run to make it 18-13. The Hawkeyes would come back to make it a two-point game but would end up dropping the set, 25-21.

Buzzerio had six of her 13 kills in that set alone, and freshman setter Bailey Ortega registered eight of her 13 total assists in the first set.

An attack error from junior middle blocker Amiya Jones gave the Terrapins a 15-12 lead in the second set, and Maryland carried that momentum into a 10-3 run that put it up two sets to none.

Iowa battled hard in the third, but the writing was on the wall as the Hawkeyes held the lead for only three points in that set. Senior outside hitter Erika Pritchard tallied three kills in the third set for Maryland, including the match-ending spike.

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Pritchard was the Terrapins’ leader in kills coming into the series, and she finished the weekend with 28 total kills and a .317 attack percentage.

Buzzerio and Clayton were the only Hawkeyes with 10 or more kills and sophomore libero Joslyn Boyer was the only player in black and gold with double-digit digs.

“We have players that can contribute to what is needed to win, but we have to maintain rhythm and completive drive,” Brown said.

Maryland came into the matchup as the best blocking team in the Big Ten, and they did not disappoint. The Terrapins out blocked Iowa 31-7 this weekend over the course of the two-game series.

The conference’s runner-up in blocks, junior middle blocker Rainelle Jones, finished with 10 blocks for Maryland.

While Friday’s match ended in a 3-1 win for the Terrapins, the final score doesn’t tell the full story of the incredibly competitive match.

Two of the four sets did not go over the 25-point mark for Iowa, and three sets were decided by a two-point margin.

All three of Iowa’s middle blockers — Blythe Rients, Amiya Jones, and Hannah Clayton — had an attacking percentage above the .300 mark on Friday.

Sophomore Edina Schmidt had an impressive 19 kill night on a career high 45 attack attempts, but the outside hitter also tallied 12 total errors and just a .200 hitting percentage.

“[It’s] confirmation that this weekend was going to be a battle every point and every set,” Brown said. “We have to clean up our block on the pins and work on getting more of a balance offense in transition.”

Iowa will return to Xtream Arena on Wednesday to take on Nebraska at 7 p.m. before traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska, to play the Cornhuskers again at 6 p.m. Saturday. Wednesday’s match will be broadcasted on BTN.

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