Maryland volleyball was riding high coming into this past weekend in San Antonio, holding a perfect 3-0 record with the opportunity to sweep the field at the UTSA Classic.
The Terps, despite quick starts against University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley and Houston, fell in two straight five-set matches. Maryland salvaged its last match, a four-set win over UTSA, but taking a 4-2 record back to College Park is not what head coach Adam Hughes and the team wanted.
However, a tough weekend in San Antonio isn’t enough to phase the Terps, who go from tournament visitors to tournament hosts this weekend with the Maryland Invitational.
“We came up a little bit short in two five-gamers and I think the team is learning what it’s like to have high expectations,” Hughes said. “I don’t think anyone is going to sleep on us anymore.”
Maryland entered the tournament as the hunted instead of the hunters, new territory for the team. The Terps are now on the map and a tournament like the UTSA Classic presented an opportunity to play tough opponents who were eager to play them.
“It’s a good thing that the program has elevated itself to that, but it’s a learning experience for them to know that they’re going to have to throw their best punch as well because that’s what’s gonna be required of them,” Hughes said.
The losing weekend did have several positives on both ends of the ball. Captains Erika Pritchard and Katie Myers were the undisputed best players on offense and defense, respectively.
Pritchard led the Terps with 38 kills, including 20 in their victory against the Roadrunners, but it was the two losses that she said will help to best shape the team going forward.
“It’s gonna be beneficial for us when we’re hungry to go after it and go get it,” Pritchard said. “Having that hunger is really important for unifying and pushing each other up after a tough loss.”
Myers was selected to the UTSA Classic All-Tournament Team, recording 31 kills, six service aces and a team-leading 19 blocks, including 10 against Houston.
Regardless, she definitely felt that the team came out flat over the weekend, not putting its best effort out on the floor.
“We kind of let their side control what we did. We were a bit frantic, but nothing we can't improve on,” Myers said.
But for the upcoming weekend, the Terps have a home-court advantage with the benefit of not having to travel, something they’re looking forward to.
“It will be a really good crowd for us and I hope people come out to support us,” Myers said.
Before that comes a robust week of practice where Myers said the team definitely needs help on limiting errors and “controlling our side of the court.”
A lot of that comes from the serve and receive game, and if those errors can be controlled, Hughes thinks this team will be a “handful” for opponents.
Maryland begins the Maryland Invitational against Arkansas on Friday at 7 p.m.