COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland coach Janice Kruger said it has been frustrating at times trying to build a volleyball power on the East Coast. While most top recruits head west, the majority of the nation's less-traditional programs tend to spin in circles.
Last night, however, the Terrapins finally took a giant step in the right direction.
With a 15-9, 15-3, 15-11 victory over Miami (Ohio) at Cole Field House, Maryland won the first NCAA tournament match in the program's 25-year history. And while the Terps had long been considered successful by East Coast standards, Kruger and her players said that last night's win was something special.
"To watch them develop and do what I thought they could do to get to this point, and actually win a first-round match is a tremendous boost to our program," said Kruger, whose team, picked fifth in the ACC in a preseason poll, will travel to eighth-ranked Ohio State for its second-round game Saturday at 2 p.m.
"I'm really excited about the way we played. We took a team that I have a lot of respect for as far as ball control and fight and shut them out."
The Terps never trailed in any game, and held Redskins top hitter Stephanie Otten, who entered the match averaging nearly four kills a game, to seven for the night.
Miami (24-7), the Mid-American Conference regular-season champion, had done some of its best work this season on the road, but never posed a serious threat until late in the final game.
"We didn't come out as sharp and with the energy that we have in past matches," said Miami coach Carolyn Condit, whose team never got on track offensively and couldn't stop Maryland's big hitters. "We needed to pass better and dig better to beat a team like Maryland."
After 10 straight sideouts to open the match, Maryland (22-9) began to take command, running out to a 10-3 lead after Daune Koester's kill that capped off a run of five straight Terps points.
Though the Redskins later cut the lead to 11-9, the Terps reeled off the final six points to take the first game.
They continued their dominance in the second and third games, using defense and the big hitting of Koester (10 kills), Sherry Smith (11), Moneach Surber (13) and Elizabeth Efron (17) to run out to 14-1 and 11-1 leads en route to easy victories.
Now the challenge shifts to a date with Ohio State, one of the best hitting teams in the country. Kruger, however, said that judging by her team's performance, an upset is possible.
"I guess you could say we're peaking," said Kruger, whose team was making its second appearance in the NCAA tournament. "I feel as though if we play really well anything can happen."
Maryland def. Miami, Ohio, 3-0
Loyola, Ill. (27-6) at Ball State (21-11)
South Carolina (20-10) at Hofstra (21-12)
Siena (27-5) at Georgia Tech (28-6)
Marshall (25-10) at Georgia (20-8)
M. Tenn. St. (22-6) at George Washington (29-5)
Indiana (20-13) at George Mason (20-10)
Central Florida (32-9) at Louisville (28-5)
Arkansas State (27-6) at Texas Tech (20-11)
Colorado (17-10) at Northern Iowa (28-1)
Idaho (27-4) at Iowa State (21-11)
Houston (17-13) at Brigham Young (20-8)
North Texas (24-9) at USC (16-8)
Oral Roberts (27-2) at Loyola Marymount (23-4)
South Florida (27-4) at UC Santa Barbara (25-8)
Colorado St. (21-10) at Long Beach St. (21-9)
Maryland (22-9) at Ohio St. (21-7), 2 p.m.
Ark. St.-Tex. Tech winner at Florida (33-1), 3 p.m.
S. Caro.-Hofstra winner at Tex. A&M (22-6), 4 p.m.
Idaho-Iowa St. winner at Notre Dame (26-6), 7 p.m.
Houston-BYU winner at Michigan State (31-2), 7 p.m.
Middle Tenn.-GW winner at Texas (24-6), 8 p.m.
Marshall-Georgia winner at Illinois (23-8), 8:30 p.m.
Ind.-G. Mason winner at Nebraska (26-1), 8:30 p.m.
Loyola, Ill.-Ball St. winner at UCLA (21-8), 10 p.m.
S. Fla.-UCSB winner at Ariz. St. (18-7), 10 p.m.
Colo. St.-LBSU winner at S. Diego St. (26-4), 10 p.m.
Colorado-N. Iowa winner at Stanford (26-2), 10 p.m.
North Texas-USC winner at Pacific (21-8), 10:30 p.m.
S. Caro.-Hofstra winner at Texas A&M (22-6), 4 p.m.
O. Roberts-LMU winner at Wash. St. (22-6), 5 p.m.
Siena-Ga. Tech winner at Penn State (26-7), 7 p.m.
C. Florida-Louisville winner at Hawaii (29-0), 11 p.m.