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Maryland volleyball vs Indiana preview

The Terps look to win their second straight conference match.

Maryland volleyball vs Michigan Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Maryland volleyball takes a 2-5 Big Ten record back to College Park for two matches this week, beginning with Indiana on Wednesday night.

Despite only coming away with one win, the Terps had a successful weekend, taking No. 8 Penn State to five sets and defeating Rutgers in four sets.

Wednesday is Indiana head coach Steve Aird’s first match back in College Park since leaving the program after the 2017 season. Aird was Maryland’s head coach for four seasons, guiding the program to an 18-14 record in 2017, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland is 4-2 against the Hoosiers since joining the Big Ten in 2014 and has won the last four matches, including a straight-set victory last season.

Indiana (12-7, 1-5 Big Ten): 6 p.m.

The Hoosiers went 11-2 in nonconference matches, including a five-set road upset of then-No. 15 Kentucky, but have trended downward since the start of Big Ten play.

It’s been a rough road in Big Ten, but that has less to do about Indiana not playing well and more about the strength of its opponents. The Hoosiers have played five ranked opponents in their six conference matches, losing all five of them while winning a total of three sets in the process.

Indiana hasn’t been a dangerous team on the attack this season, currently 11th in the conference with a .201 hitting percentage, 11.32 assists per set and 12.14 kills per set.

In conference play, the Hoosiers are hitting .114, averaging 10.09 kills per set, allowing a .260 opponent hitting percentage. In its last match, Indiana won 37 total points, no more than 14 in a set against No. 17 Illinois.

Players to know

Breana Edwards, sophomore outside hitter, No. 11. Edwards has been Indiana’s top attacker this season, with 215 kills and 3.12 kills per set. The sophomore had a rough showing against the Fighting Illini, hitting -.200 with three kills. However, she had a better showing against No. 20 Purdue, leading the Hoosiers with 15 kills.

Deyshia Lofton, senior middle blocker, No. 16. Lofton, a veteran leader for Indiana, is one of the best attackers in the conference. She’s sixth in the Big Ten with a .392 hitting percentage and is second on the team with 177 kills. Lofton also leads the team with 83 total blocks, averaging 1.14 blocks per set.

Haley Armstrong, freshman defensive specialist, No. 14. Armstrong has emerged as a leader on Indiana’s back line. She leads the Hoosiers with 208 digs this season, including a team-high 21 digs against Purdue last Wednesday.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland continue last weekend’s momentum? Maryland had its best week of Big Ten play last weekend and if the Terps want to give themselves a shot at the NCAA Tournament, that play has to continue for the rest of the season. This is the first match to see whether last weekend, especially last Friday, was a fluke.

2. Were Indiana’s losses not indicative of the quality of the team? The Big Ten is the best conference in college volleyball, meaning a lot of good competition. Facing five ranked opponents in the first six conference matches of the season and going 0-5 isn’t necessarily a factor of being bad, but Wednesday will be a good test for the Hoosiers.

3. What will the mood be in Steve Aird’s return to Maryland? Aird will be back in College Park for the first time in almost two years. He left the program on interesting terms, pretty much out of the blue, so it will be interesting to see what reception he gets from the Maryland crowd.