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Bragging rights in NCAA mix for Towson, Maryland


It's the new kid on the block against the resident state power.

There is added volleyball intrigue for today's 5 p.m. first-round NCAA tournament duel in State College, Pa., between Towson and Maryland.

The Tigers (25-8) are making their first trip to the NCAAs and have won 11 of their past 12 matches, including the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title.

The Terps (17-14) are returning to the NCAAs for a sixth time, earning an automatic bid by winning four straight matches and their second straight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

"They're [the Terps] the premier team in the state until somebody beats them," said Towson coach Chris Riley.

"They're so much bigger than we are block-wise [their middle blocker is 6-foot-4 Rachel Wagener], we're going to have to make sure we're aggressive serving and pass well enough to stay in the system.

"Our seven seniors have turned this program around. We just went five [a 3-2 loss last Saturday] with Florida and they're No. 13 in the country."

The Terps lead the all-time series with the Tigers, 22-1.

The winner will likely have to meet the tournament's No. 2 seed, host Penn State (27-2), in the second round tomorrow at 7 p.m. The Nittany Lions will take on American at 7 tonight.

Maryland defeated Towson, 3-0, on Sept. 15, but two of the games in that match were tightly contested, 33-31 and 30-26. Riley and Maryland coach Janice Kruger said their teams are playing much better now.

Kruger said: "We will need to be able to pass their strong serves. They have some jump servers who are very powerful and talented. They have a great setter [Mary Clare Coghlan] who is a good on-court leader."

For Maryland, senior outside hitter Sarah Treadwell, the ACC tournament's Most Valuable Player, is the big hitter with 3.40 kills a game. Wagener owns the school career blocks mark as a junior at 445, and senior outside hitter Maria DiLivio recorded her 1,000th career kill last weekend.

Towson answers with CAA tournament MVP Liz Goubeaux, who leads the team in attack percentage (.396) and blocks a game (1.29). Sarah Miller leads in kills (3.24 a game) and April Hoffman (3.13) ranks second.

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