After back-to-back undefeated weekends, Maryland volleyball has a strong 10-2 record entering Big Ten play.
The Terps will start their conference slate at home on Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 19 Purdue. The Boilermakers come to College Park already having tallied three victories over ranked opponents — Kansas, Marquette and Kentucky — and will be Maryland’s biggest test so far this season.
On Sunday, Maryland will face Michigan at 1 p.m. The Wolverines have struggled lately, losing their last three matches.
Both games will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers (6-3)
2022 record: 21-11 (11-9 Big Ten)
A two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, head coach Dave Shondell has been with the Boilermakers for 21 seasons and is the longest tenured active head coach in the conference. Shondell has led Purdue to 17 NCAA Tournament berths, nine Sweet 16s and four Elite Eights.
In 2023, Shondell welcomed the No. 3 ranked recruiting class in the nation — the highest in program history.
Players to watch
Chloe Chicoine, freshman outside hitter, No. 2 — Chicoine arrived as Purdue’s first-ever No. 1 overall recruit. The 2022 AVCA first-team All-American has already made a name for herself. The freshman leads the Boilermakers with 161 kills and ranks top-25 in the country in kills per game.
Emily Rastovski, redshirt sophomore hitter, No. 22 — Rastovski is a fantastic No. 2 option for the Boilermakers, as her 138 kills are the fifth-most in the Big Ten, just two spots behind Chicoine.
Despite playing just 10 sets last season, in which she recorded eight kills, the redshirt sophomore is on fire. Her and Chicoine provide on of the best offensive duos in the conference.
Youth. To go along with Chicoine, Purdue boasts the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation. It’s headlined by talented first-year players Grace Heaney, Taylor Anderson, Julia Kane, Kenna Wollard and Rachel Williams.
With the freshmen taking on important roles so early in their careers, it’s clear that they will be a group to watch both now and for seasons to come.
Opponent assists. Purdue has allowed opponents to rake up over 12 assists per set, the worst mark in the Big Ten. Maryland could look to try and expose this early — Sydney Dowler leads the conference in assists per set.
Michigan Wolverines (2-7)
2022 record: 17-13 (8-12 Big Ten)
Head coach Erin Virtue is in her first year leading the Wolverines. The seventh head coach in Michigan volleyball history, Virtue previously spent five seasons with the program as a recruiting and offensive coordinator from 2011-2015. During her first stint with the Wolverines, Michigan made four NCAA Tournament appearances with two runs to the Sweet 16 and one Final Four appearance. Virtue returns to Ann Arbor looking to bring back that success.
Players to watch
Kendall Murray, senior opposite hitter, No. 27 — Murray has provided a much-needed spark for Michigan’s offense. Her 19 service aces, tied for fourth in the Big Ten, and 87 kills lead the team. She has also contributed 13 total blocks.
Jacque Boney, junior middle blocker, No. 17 — Boney leads Michigan with 31 total blocks and has been the Wolverines’ main force at the net. Her 84 kills are a close second on the team.
Aces. Murray and freshman Lydia Johnson both rank top-10 in the Big Ten in service aces, with 19 and 13, respectively. With Michigan’s offense struggling recently, look for Murray and Johnson to try and provide a spark from the baseline.
Hitting percentage. Michigan enters conference play ranked last in the conference in hitting percentage (.191). The Wolverines are the only team in the Big Ten with a sub-.200 percentage.
Three things to watch
1. Purdue provides a tough first test. Friday’s match against Purdue is not only Maryland’s first conference game of the season, but the Boilermakers are also Maryland’s first ranked opponent. The Terps have recently struggled to find success in Big Ten play, but have a chance to turn heads.
2. Will early-season wins translate to conference play? Maryland’s six-game win streak is its longest since 2021, and its four consecutive sweeps are also the most in two years. Will the Terps be able to find sustained success against stiffer competition?
3. Can Russ stay hot? Through 12 matches, Anastasia Russ leads the nation with a .516 hitting percentage. She has 75 kills on 128 attacks and has seemingly gotten better every match. The 6-foot-5 middle blocker is key to Maryland’s success this season.