Maryland volleyball will play its final two matches of the season this week. Despite losing two of their stronger players very early in the season, the Terps have taken steps towards becoming a better team over the course of the season, and they are creating a new environment at Xfinity Pavilion.
Before we look too far ahead to next season and the strong recruiting class Steve Aird will bring in, let’s take a look at Maryland’s final opponents for the 2015 season.
This will be the second time the Terrapins and Hawkeyes meet this season. The first gathering ended in favor of the visiting Terps, who took the match 3-1. Adreene’ Elliott led the way for Maryland, similar to how she has done all conference play. The redshirt senior, who will be playing her final match in College Park Wednesday evening, had 16 kills against Iowa earlier this season.
Maryland was out-served in the first meeting, which is something that rarely happens as they rank first in the conference in service aces. Iowa served five aces compared to Maryland’s two. Both teams, however, finished with seven service errors each.
If Maryland wants to take the match Wednesday night, their hitters must look to take advantage of Iowa’s defensive struggles. The Hawkeyes are last in the conference in total blocks. They have struggled stopping opponents all season, as teams have hit .238 percent against them. Maryland has had similar struggles this season, as their opponents have hit for a .252 clip.
Annika Olsen has had a phenomenal season after transferring from Georgia Tech. Her teammates blocking struggles have led to her receiving plenty of opportunities for digs this season. Olsen has taken full advantage of the opportunity as she leads the conference in digs this season.
Although the crowd at the final home match of the season will likely not be as large as it has been this season due to it taking place the night before Thanksgiving, Maryland will look to send seniors Adreene’ Elliott, Kelsey Hrebenach, Emily Fraik, Dani Bozzini and Amy Dion out on a high note in a match that should be extremely competitive throughout.
WHO: Maryland vs Iowa
WHEN: Wednesday, November 25th. 7PM
WHERE: Xfinity Pavilion (University of Maryland)
HOW TO FOLLOW: Live stats via umterps.com, @TerpsVolleyball on Twitter
After paying tribute to its seniors, Maryland will head to Northwestern as the Wildcats will attempt to send its graduating class off with a victory.
Prior to the first meeting between the Terrapins and Wildcats, I boldly predicted the match would be winnable for Maryland. Despite the Wildcats making me eat my words as they handed Maryland a straight set loss, I’m confident again that this is a match Maryland could win. If they cut down from the 12 service errors last time out against Northwestern, the match should go much better than it did.
The Wildcats are the owners of a 14-15 overall record, and a 6-12 conference record. Abbie Kraus, a senior defensive specialist, will look to serve her team to victory Saturday afternoon as she ranks fourth in the conference in aces.
She is joined by fellow senior Caroline Niedospial who ranks second in the conference in digs. Both Kraus and Niedospial, who is a Illinois native, will be playing their final matches in Evanston.
Saturday will be the final match of the season for the Terrapins, and I fully expect them to come out ready to play a strong match against a strong opponent. For my own sake, I’m hoping Northwestern doesn’t make me eat my words…again.
WHO: Maryland @ Northwestern
WHEN: Saturday, November 28th. 2PM
WHERE: Evanston, Illinois (Northwestern University)
HOW TO FOLLOW: Live stream via Studio N Live, live stats on nusports.com, and @TerpsVolleyball on Twitter