The Maryland volleyball team has a few big games coming up, both in the state of Michigan. The Terps will meet Michigan State on Wednesday and then Michigan on Thursday. Here's a preview of what they'll see.
The Spartans own an 11-6 overall record, with a 3-3 record in Big Ten play. Their most recent match ended in a sweep of Iowa on the road. The victory over the Hawkeyes was a good sign as they went into the match having lost their two previous matches against Michigan in five sets, and Nebraska in four.
Brooke Kranda is a player to watch. The 6'6" redshirt sophomore has 549 attacks on the season and 207 of them have ended in a kill. Kranda came out of nowhere this season, as she was not one of the Spartans' star players in her redshirt freshman year. As a team, the Spartans are 13th in the country with 14.36 kills per set.
MSU is an extremely young team. They only have three seniors, and the majority of their roster is made up of sophomores. Their impact players are young, but they have proven their ability to compete in the conference.
Defense is key for the Spartans. Opponents this season have hit just 18.8 percent against them. They also average just shy of 15 digs per set. Abby Monson leads the team with 219 this season. Monson is another sophomore making an impact early in her career.
Michigan State makes their share of mistakes. They have more attack errors and service errors than their opponents this season. Maryland will have to look to capitalize if they hope to grab their first conference victory.
WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: East Lansing, Mich.
The No. 23 Wolverines will be Maryland's seventh nationally ranked opponent this season. Coming into this week they are 13-4, with a 3-3 conference record. Their last match ended in a loss against No. 4 Nebraska.
Michigan started off the season extremely well, going a perfect 10-0 before losing in straight sets at North Carolina. The Wolverines are tough to defeat at home. Their only home loss came against Purdue, which surprisingly ended in straight sets. In their home matches since, they defeated Indiana in four sets and rival Michigan State in five.
The Wolverines have an incredibly balanced offensive attack, which will make it very difficult for the Terps to stop. They have five players with over 100 kills on the season. Abby Cole leads the way with 175. Cole, a 6'5" junior middle blocker, hits an impressive .388 percent.
Michigan also has four players with over 100 digs on the season. Tiffany Morales leads the team with 189 and Carly Warner is a close second with 179.
The maize and blue do not have a single player who dominates every aspect of the game. They are extremely balanced in everything they do, making it tough for opponents to find a weak link. This ability to spread the wealth offensively and defensively is why they have been one of the top teams in the country for a very long time.
WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Ann Arbor, Mich.