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Maryland volleyball vs. Indiana preview

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The Terps will face off against Indiana in search of their second conference win.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland’s losing streak has moved to four after its heartbreaking five-set loss to Northwestern on Friday.

Despite Maryland outscoring Northwestern by nine points, the Terps were unable to come away with a win. Maryland pushed the Wildcats in every set but didn’t take care of business in the closing sets. The Terps did have an improved .219 hitting percentage from their last three matches and won the error margin by +22, but the match came down to who had the timelier points, and that was Northwestern.

Maryland will now face another unranked opponent below .500 with the Hoosiers, who are coming off a four-set win over Rutgers. Indiana dominated from the get-go, holding Rutgers to a -.094 hitting percentage in the first set and winning the third set by 11. Saturday’s match will begin at 7 p.m. as the Terps play back-to-back games in front of their home crowd and it will air on BTN Plus.

Indiana Hoosiers 8-9 (2-3 Big Ten)

2020-21 record: 5-15 (5-15 Big Ten)

Head coach Steve Aird is now in his fourth year as Indiana volleyball’s head coach. Arid is a two-time NCAA champion as an assistant coach at Penn State, and is one of the best recruiters in the nation, already bringing new energy into the Indiana volleyball program. He was behind the Hoosiers’ elite freshman class in 2020, which ranked No. 15 in the country, the highest in program history.

Arid has only netted one winning season as Indiana’s head coach, recording a 16-15 record his first year. Similar to Maryland, the Hoosiers finished last year’s all-conference schedule with a 5-15 record, splitting the two-game series with the Terps.

Players to know

Junior defensive specialist Paula Cerama, 5-foot-8, No. 17 — This is Cerama’s first year starting for the Hoosiers and she has not disappointed. She is fifth in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.30), third on the team in assists (52) and fourth on the team in service aces (6). Cerama has implemented herself as one of the best passers in the Big Ten with a .973 receiving percentage.

Junior middle blocker Kaley Rammelsberg, 6-foot-1, No. 18 — This is Rammelsberg's first season starting as well and she has been extremely efficient. Rammelsberg is seventh in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.394), first on the team in blocks per set (.96) and third on the team in kills (110).

Freshman outside hitter Mady Saris, 6-foot-1, No. 4 — The young freshman has already been a staple for the Hoosiers, as she is one of two players to start every match. So far this season, Saris is second on the team in kills (157) and digs (92), third in service aces (12), and fourth in blocks (24) and assists (11). The Canadian native has an array of volleyball experience as she is a current member of the Canadian Junior National Team.

Strength

Limiting errors. Indiana’s key to success and its biggest strength so far has been its ability to limit errors. In their only conference win against Michigan State, the Hoosiers won the error battle by a margin of +10. Despite being dominated in nearly every statistical category in their most recent four-set loss to Penn State, the Hoosiers only committed one more error. The Hoosiers will need to keep the errors to a minimum if they want to compete with Maryland.

Weakness

Service line play. Indiana’s biggest weakness this season has been its play at the service line. The Hoosiers rank bottom four in the Big Ten in kills per set (12.35), hitting percentage (.201), and opponent hitting percentage (.187). The Terps have offensive struggles of their own, but their .141 opponent hitting percentage will provide the Hoosiers with a significant challenge.

Three things to know

1. Will Milan Gomillion be good to go after an injury? The standout freshman is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and a staple to Maryland’s defense. Gomillion had to leave Friday night’s game early due to an injury after getting hit in the face with a hard-hitting spike, but returned to the bench later in the match. Gomillion leads the Big Ten in digs per set (4.75) and she will be essential if the Terps want to win this match.

2. Can the Terps take advantage of the weak defensive matchup? Maryland is not a strong offensive team, ranking 11th in the Big Ten in both hitting percentage (.224) and kills per set (12.53). The Terps have not been great on offense in the last few matches either, but if there is a matchup that Maryland can take advantage of, it’s this one against Indiana.

3. The Terps need to win this match to contend with the Big Ten powerhouses. The Big Ten is littered with talented top 25 teams, so every time the Terps face an unranked opponent, they need to take advantage. Maryland lost to its first unranked Big Ten opponent on Friday night and it needs to win this match or its record could get ugly as a plethora of talented Big Ten teams are on the horizon.