A funny thing happens when you win in sports. People take notice. That's just what happened this week when the Big Ten announced that Maryland freshman outside hitter Angel Gaskin was named co-Freshman of the Week. Gaskin thus becomes the first Terrapins volleyball player to win a conference honor.
Last year, in their initial season in the B1G, Maryland won three games - twice beating winless Rutgers and scratching out a five set win over Northwestern in the season finale. This season, the Terps first two wins came at home over Rutgers and on the road at Iowa over a then winless Hawkeyes squad. When losses accumulate and even your rare wins come over the bottom of the league, even great performances go unrecognized.
However, push the top team in the country to four sets and then turn around and not only beat the nation's 12th ranked squad but thrash them in straight sets and recognition follows.
How difficult is it to win recognition in the B1G? In splitting their two matches, Maryland senior Adreene Elliott had 34 kills while hitting .289. In the win over Ohio State, Elliott had 18 kills while hitting .364 and added four aces. Still, that wasn't enough to earn her Player of the Week over Minnesota's Daly Santana.
Obviously, Gaskin needed an exceptionally impressive showing against two of the best squads in the conference and the country to claim her honor. Gaskin totaled 16 kills and hit .314 for the week. She registered 11 of those in the loss to Penn State while hitting an astonishing .381 against the best defensive team in the league - one that allows opponents to hit only .142. She added five kills and five block assists in the Terrapins upset over Ohio State totaling seven block assists for the two games.
Given the progress of the team under Steve Aird and his staff and the incoming talent, Terps volleyball players will likely win more awards sometime down the road. But for now, for this time, Angel Gaskin stands alone. And for now, and forever, she will claim the honor of being the first.