Maryland volleyball got the season off to a strong start last weekend at the Maryland Invite, going 3-0. On Friday, the team travels on the road for first time for the Liberty Invitational in Virginia.
To start the year, Maryland beat both UMBC and Northeastern in four sets. On both occasions, the Terps lost the first set before soundly winning the following three. The key to Maryland’s victories in these games were blocks. Maryland had 14 total team blocks against UMBC and 15.5 against Northeastern. In addition, UMBC and Northeastern only managed nine and four, respectively.
The Terps’ game against Temple was their toughest. They managed to win in five sets, though the Owls kept the game close. Temple had the upper hand on blocks in that game, recording 18.5 total team blocks. The Terps had just 6.5.
Moving forward into this weekend’s invitiational, the Terps need to make sure they focus on defense. With a difficult Big Ten schedule, Maryland can only stand to lose a few games—if that—before the conference play starts. If it comes down to blocking, Maryland needs to make sure it has the upper hand in that area.
The team’s attack has been relatively consistent, with attack scores of .285, .263, and .213. Maryland should have beaten Temple more easily, since the Terps scored easily, but they weren’t able to get as many blocks, and suffered when Temple scored more.
On the offensive side, Maryland seems to have capitalized on its successful recruiting. Stars Samantha Dreschel, Gia Milana and Erika Pritchard all attacked frequently during the Maryland invite. As long as Steve Aird continues to trust his recruiting process, and the team uses these opportunities to put shots on target and pad the win column, Maryland’s season will continue on last weekend’s strong note.
1. Defense builds offense. Maryland won the battle in digs in every game at the Maryland Invite—even against Temple—which indicates that blocking may be one of the few facets they need to work on.
2. Capitalize on the road. Maryland doesn’t play in state again until Sept. 14 at the Maryland Challenge. The Terps needs to win on the road early, especially against teams who haven’t been bringing in the level of talent that they have.
3. One down, three to go. Maryland has just three more invitationals before conference play starts. If the Terps keep up the good work, they’ll enter the Big Ten schedule with an impressive body of work already.