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Maryland Volleyball Preview September 5 & 6

The Terps head down the Beltway to take on Lehigh, East Tennessee State and the host George Mason.

USA TODAY Sports

Maryland Volleyball kicks off week two with a tournament in Fairfax, VA hosted by George Mason. The Terps begin with Lehigh on Friday at 5:00PM. Two more matches follow on Saturday versus East Tennessee State at 12:00PM and George Mason at 6:00PM.

Lehigh opened 2014 with a 2-2 record at the Buffalo Invitational with wins over Canisius and Buffalo and losses to Siena and Ole Miss. The Mountain Hawks had a balanced offense on the first weekend led by Jade van Streepen with 2.79 kills per set and followed by five other players with greater than 2 kills per set.

On Saturday Maryland opens with East Tennessee State (1-2). In Charlotte, the Bucs beat Morgan State and dropped matches to Sacramento State and the host UNC Charlotte. Senior Ivey Rice led in kills (2.57 per set). The number that jumps off the stat page is ETSU's blocks per set at 2.41.

To wrap up the tournament, Maryland faces the host Patriots of George Mason (0-3). Mason dropped matches against Howard, Georgetown and American in a D.C. area tournament. Sophomore Jessie Greenslade led in kills with 2.55 kills per set.

The second weekend should see big strides in execution and production. Another weekend on the road should not challenge the Terps much with a trip under their belt last weekend at Elon. Coach Aird may have more options back on the floor if Chavi St. Hill and Ashleigh Crutcher are able to return. Areas that Aird is hoping show signs of improvement are ball control, defense and especially blocking.

Maryland again should have a physical advantage against every team. If the passing stabilizes, setter Carlotta Oggioni should be able to establish a steady and credible middle attack. This will help open up seams for the outside (or pin) hitters. Three areas that should improve for weekend two are blocks per set, team hitting percentage. and kills per set. If Maryland can block at a 2.2 per set pace along with a .240 hitting percentage (kills minus errors divided by attempts) and 14 kills per set will demonstrate good progress going into week three.

I'm predicting another 3-0 weekend for Maryland and hope to see improved performances in some key areas.