COLLEGE PARK -- This would be the match that proved Maryland belonged.
It didn't happen.
Ohio State passed better, hit harder and took advantage of numerous Maryland mistakes last night for a 15-13, 15-10, 15-9 victory in the second round of the NCAA volleyball tournament at Cole Field House.
It was the third straight year the Terps suffered a second-round defeat.
"It's real disappointing not to reach the Sweet 16," said Maryland coach Janice Kruger. "We really need that, not to prove to ourselves that we were good, but to prove to everyone else that we were."
The 19th-ranked Terps (27-2) were good. They showed that by becoming the eighth team in NCAA history to have an undefeated regular season.
But the postseason was another story. Maryland lost to Clemson in an ACC tournament semifinal. Then, after a first-round win over Princeton, struggled against 25th-ranked Ohio State.
"This is a disappointment in that we didn't play better," Kruger said about last night's match. "But as far as the season, I am very content with our performance, effort and fight."
Maryland led Ohio State (24-10) only once in the match. That's when the Terps won the first point of the first game.
Ohio State, using its height advantage, quickness and smart passing, ran off six straight points for an 11-4 lead in the first game. Maryland settled down and got within 14-13, but Vanessa Wouters' kill shot -- she had 21 to lead the Buckeyes -- ended the game.
The Terps fell behind 13-5 in the second game before a late four-point run cut their deficit to 14-10. Dana Stearns, who had 12 kills and nine block assists for the Buckeyes, ended the game with a point block.
Maryland stayed with Ohio State early in the third game, but the Buckeyes, who lost to Maryland in five games early in the season, pulled away for an 11-6 lead and never looked back.
"We're ecstatic to get out of here with a win," said Ohio State coach Jim Stone, whose team defeated the Terps two years ago in Columbus in an NCAA tournament second-round match. "Maryland's a very good team. We knew we had to play very well to win, and we did."
Ohio State and Maryland had opposite results with passing.
"They passed the ball so well," said Kruger, "that they were able to be a lot more deceptive with their shots.
"Our passing made it more difficult for us. They probably knew where we were going to go every time. We practice it [passing] all the time, but today it wasn't there."
Ohio State, which will play at Penn State next weekend, never stopped hitting hard. "We kept encouraging our players to keep swinging," Stone said. "I think we did a good job hitting the ball in bounds and staying aggressive."
Pub Date: 12/07/97