Liz Twilley always wanted to go to Maryland. Twilley was verbally committed to the program and ended up being one of the first big recruits for then incoming head coach Steve Aird and assistant coach Adam Hughes.
“She said that Maryland’s the school that I wanted to go to and that’s where I’m going,” Hughes said.
Twilley quickly evolved into a crucial part of Maryland’s attack. In her first two years at Maryland, she finished second on the team in kills both years, 355 in 2015 and 249 in 2016. In 2017, though, an influx of outside hitters forced Twilley to the bench. She played in just nine sets and recorded four kills.
In the offseason, Aird left for Indiana and several of those outside hitters transferred, reopening the door for Twilley. At the beginning of this season, Hughes, having seen her develop over the past three seasons, had the confidence to put her in as a starter.
“Knowing how Lizzie’s recruiting process started, where this was her school and there was no doubt she was gonna be sticking it out regardless of what happened, she was someone that we could kind of anchor ourselves around,” Hughes said. “We needed that at that time, trying to build some stability back into the program.”
In her first two years, while she was very productive on the attacking end, she still had room to improve her first touch and vision on the court when in the air. Those were points of emphasis even when she was relegated to the bench. Not playing in 2017 was simply extra motivation for Twilley coming into this year; she was eager to bring her improved game back to the floor.
“Hughes has always had confidence in me and I worked hard this offseason learning from him a lot,” Twilley said. “I wanted to step up and be thrown in to play. I was happy that he had the same feeling in me that I did about how I could play.”
More importantly, this is Twilley’s senior season. Along with wanting to get on the court to play, this was her last chance to help out the program and make an impact on her teammates.
“I knew that I wanted to get the opportunity to play to help the team however I could in my senior year,” Twilley said. “It was what I wanted. I was ready for the opportunity and the challenge of it.”
It’s not often that a player of Twilley’s caliber goes from an impact starter to bench player back to starter, but she rolled with the punches and made the best of her situation. While Aird’s departure, along with such players like Gia Milana and Samantha Dreschel, was shocking for the program, Twilley has been key to helping the Terps keep their level of play from dropping off.
“There’s a learning curve when you first come in. So senior year, things aren’t as stressful,” Twilley said. “You’re not as mind-blown and nervous about playing in arenas and playing in different places because you’ve done it before. So, I think being a senior has helped me not only personally feel more comfortable but also, feel like I can help the other girls as well.”
Twilley still has half a season left to further make her mark on this program, but after seeing her develop over the last four years, Hughes knows how much she’s impacted the development and success of Maryland volleyball.
“She’s someone that means a lot to this program about how she goes about her business,” Hughes said. “She’s someone that every day in practice, you can see she gave it her all. It wasn’t about what the situation was, it’s how you go about your business. She’s someone that I look at and I hope my kids can emulate that someday.”