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Maryland volleyball finally has a break from ranked opponents, will play Iowa Wednesday

Of the Terps’ last five matches, four have been losses to ranked teams.

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It will not be an easy matchup by any means, but Maryland volleyball (8-6, 0-2) will like its chances when it faces Iowa (10-4, 0-2) on Wednesday, rather than the top-ranked competition of late.

The Terps suffered two losses in straight sets to start the Big Ten campaign against No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday. Including non-conference play, Maryland has dropped four of its last five matches—those four all in straight sets to ranked opponents.

Wednesday will be a welcome break from playing ranked competition, but there are no easy games in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes lost to No. 20 Michigan State on Friday and No. 22 Michigan on Saturday. While Michigan State handled the competition easily enough on its way to a straight-sets victory, Iowa forced Michigan to beat them in four sets despite the Hawkeyes’ 32 errors in the match.

Maryland was not able to replicate the same marginal success as Iowa, but did show promise in its match against Wisconsin, scoring 21 points in the third and final set against the Badgers. The Terps still suffered from 22 errors in the match, eight of which came on serves. In Maryland’s opening two Big Ten matches, the team has a combined hitting percentage of .052, last in the conference.

Key Player Stats

1. Maryland senior middle hitter Ashlyn MacGregor is tied for second in the country with 1.83 blocks per set. She came off of a big performance against the Badgers on Saturday, leading the line with six blocks in the match. The contribution drops off after MacGregor, with a total of eight blocks in that game. Maryland and MacGregor will utilize their advantage against Iowa. As a team, the Terps average 2.94 blocks per set, while Iowa is last in the Big Ten averaging 1.76 blocks per set.

2. Maryland sophomore libero Kelsey Wicinski leads the Big Ten in digs, with 235, an average of 4.90 in a set. She had a team-high 17 digs against Wisconsin on Saturday. Wicinski leads the Terps in digs and in serving aces this season as well.

3. Iowa senior setter Loxley Keala is third in the Big Ten in assists, with 514 total, and averages 11.42 per set. The Hawaii native tied her season-high with 47 assists against Michigan.

4. Iowa senior outside hitter Lauren Brobst boasts a strong 3.48 kills per set and a .358 hitting percentage. She leads her team with 139 kills, including a team-high 13 kills against Michigan.

There is no such thing as momentum when games are four days apart, but there is confidence. The Terps may have gained some confidence from the third set against Wisconsin, and with any luck, will carry it over to set one against Iowa on the way to Maryland’s first Big Ten victory of the season.