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Maryland volleyball weekend preview: FGCU Classic

The Terps head back down to Florida for their last tournament before conference play.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Coming off its first perfect weekend of the season, Maryland volleyball (7-2) heads to Florida for the FGCU Classic, its last weekend tournament of the season before Big Ten play begins.

This will be the Terps’ second tournament of the season in Florida, as they opened the season at the Canes Classic, finishing 2-1 with wins against FIU and Lamar.

On Friday, the Terps will take on Le Moyne at 4 p.m., and then face off on Saturday against FAU at 1 p.m. and Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m.

Le Moyne Dolphins (0-6)

2022 record: 7-16 (3-9 Northeast-10)

First-year head coach Susan Kim has her work cut out for her, as the Dolphins have not produced a winning season since 2019. Kim comes to Le Moyne with 18 years of coaching experience, 11 of those at the collegiate level. Most recently, she was the associate head coach at Rider University, where she won the MAAC championship in just her second year with the program.

Player to watch

Kayla Anstett, sophomore middle hitter, No. 17 — Anstett has been one of the few bright spots for the Dolphins this season. Her 33 points lead the team and her 24 kills rank third. She also leads Le Moyne in total blocks with 14, more than double her next closest teammate.

FAU Owls (7-3)

2022 record: 13-13 (3-11 Conference USA)

Head coach Fernanda Nelson is in her 11th year at the program’s helm. Nelson has led the Owls to a 70-45 record during her tenure, which includes a 46-17 record in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Having not had a winning season since 2019, Nelson and the Owls will look to build off of their 7-3 start.

Player to watch

Kaila Ru, junior middle blocker, No. 21 — Ru has emerged as one of the team’s best players after transferring from Polk State. She leads the Owls with a .373 hitting percentage and ranks second on the team with 77 kills. At Polk State, Ru was named an NJCAA All-American after posting a .376 hitting percentage, which ranked third in the nation.

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (5-4)

2022 record: 26-7 (13-3 Atlantic Sun)

Head coach Matt Botsford is in his 10th season as the program’s leader. During his tenure, FGCU has a 210-66 record, going 109-23 in conference play. The winningest coach in Eagles history, his .761 career win percentage ranks 11th among all active Division I coaches. The Eagles have registered at least 20 wins in eight of the last nine seasons.

Player to watch

Juliana Lentz, senior middle blocker, No. 13 — Lentz has been a force at the net this season for the Eagles. Her 35 total blocks and 1.06 blocks per set are both fourth in the Atlantic Sun. Her 54 kills rank third on the team, and she is one of two players to start all nine matches.

Three things to watch

1. Offensive success. Having led the Big Ten in blocks for the last three years, head coach Adam Hughes takes pride in the Terps’ newfound offensive consistency. Maryland ranks top-three in the Big Ten in points (571), hitting percentage (.287), assists (396) and kills (433).

2. Schnitta’s availability. Senior outside hitter Samantha Schnitta, who has been a major piece to the Terps’ success, did not play last weekend due to an illness. While the Terps won all three matches last weekend, Schnitta’s return would be welcomed.

3. Conference play looming. This weekend will be Maryland’s last before heading into Big Ten play. The Terps will look to rake in three more wins before taking on some of the best teams in the country.