Maryland Volleyball lost its senior captain for the season last week when Emily Fraik went down with an injury against Washington. Fraik is a six-rotation player and probably the most complete player that Maryland has. She can't be replaced in terms of her experience, her leadership, her unselfish play, and the way she kept the team on an even keel.
Maryland now faces the grueling gauntlet that is Big Ten play. Aird called it a 10-week grind. How will the Terps fare in their second season in the Big Ten, taking on many of the country's best week in and week out?
On the new line-up
"It's a line-up I would play if I had Emily and I've just replaced Emily with Abby Bentz. That's what we're going to roll out. Abby is a really good little volleyball player and she'll compete like crazy."
On Maryland's Big Ten opener against No. 9 Illinois
"I think Illinois is Final Four good and I have a lot of respect for their staff. They had the number one recruiting class in the country last year."
"I just want to compete. I don't care about the score. I'm not expecting us to shock the world and win the match. I just want to play hard and I expect the atmosphere tomorrow to be great."
Who will fill the void left by Emily Fraik?
"I think the right side of our court is going to get more swings...It's going to be by committee."
What is the toughest thing about not having Fraik on the court?
"Emily bailed us out of a lot of things because she was a six-rotation player. Honestly, it's tough to replace your senior captain. She's been such a stabilizing force for the program for many years."
On what he wants to see from freshmen Liz Twilley and Angel Gaskin this weekend
"Continued aggression. I don't care if they make errors. They're both freshmen and I want them to take big swings and not worry about the result. I want them to worry about the process and get comfortable in these big environments. This will be a fun environment but we're a few weeks away from going to places that are hostile."
On playing physical Big Ten teams
"They (Maryland) just gotta be in a position where they see it, they see it consistently and know that it's not going to go away. The conference has a lot of teams that are really, really good at the net. I just want them to stay brave. If they get blocked, I could care less. Are they going to get back up and take another big swing?"
On seeing the fight in his team at the Oklahoma Invitational
"It was great, especially after the Emily injury. There's an emotional toll on teams when you lose a player and when you lose a captain. I was really worried that would show up. You have an excuse to have a "woe is me" thing going on and it was the opposite."
"They're going to compete. We don't have the most skilled team. It's not all clean but they're going to compete all year right to the last whistle, right to the last match. That to me is a huge step forward."