Maryland volleyball begins its Big Ten schedule this week, as the Terps will welcome Ohio State to College Park.
It was a historic weekend for Maryland in the Gamecock Invitational, as the Terps recorded their 1,000th win as a program in the third match of the weekend against Appalachian State — they finished the weekend with a 2-1 record.
Outside hitter Erika Pritchard recorded her 1,000th career kill as well. The junior is on her way to setting the program record for career kills, as she sits less than 600 away from Carey Brennan’s 1,585 kills that hold the top spot.
Despite a 5-10 all-time record against the Buckeyes, the Terps have had recent success. Maryland went 2-0 against them last season, including winning its last meeting in a straight-set win in Columbus on Nov. 10.
Ohio State — Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Ohio State is 7-5, riding a three-game winning streak. Its toughest test of the nonconference schedule was a loss in straight sets to then-No. 10 Pittsburgh at the ChampYinz Invitational.
The Buckeyes have a relatively tough schedule against them, playing a home-and-home series against Michigan starting Sept. 29. Ohio State has been a decent attacking team, but not as solid the Terps, hitting .223 to Maryland’s .255. Ohio State excels on defense, with 669 total digs to Maryland’s 584, averaging 15.56 digs per set.
On the attack, the Buckeyes are 19th in the country with 14.09 kills per set and 23rd in the country with 12.95 assists per set. If Ohio State can execute like it did in the Buckeye Invitational and keep up with its current set averages, it’ll be a dangerous team — despite any recent success Maryland has had against them.
Players to know
Mia Grunze, sophomore outside hitter, No. 3. Ohio State’s attack is run through Grunze, who currently has 132 kills on the season and a decently high 3.57 kills per set. She’s not Ohio State’s most efficient hitter, hitting .197 on the season, however, she recorded back-to-back double-doubles against Dayton and Illinois State last Friday.
Kylie Murr, freshman defensive specialist, No. 6. Murr has taken over on the defensive side of the ball. She’s currently 12th in the country with 5.40 digs per set and 32nd with 232 total digs. Murr received MVP honors in the Buckeye Invitational, recording 59 digs over the weekend, which included two 20+ dig matches.
Mac Podraza, freshman setter, No. 10. Podraza is the Buckeyes’ other impact freshman, with 307 assists on the season. She averaged 16 assists per match at the Buckeye Invitational, and it will be interesting to see what her and Murr can do against a seasoned Terps roster.
Three things to watch
- How does Ohio State respond to Maryland? As previously mentioned, the Terps were 2-0 against the Buckeyes last season, including a straight-set victory in the last meeting. This is a re-vamped Ohio State team that’s out to make a statement, and it’s both teams’ first Big Ten game of the season, so both are looking to get out to a good conference start.
- Can Katie Myers keep up her dominance? Myers is currently third in the country with 75 total blocks this season and 21st in the country, hitting .435 this season. She has been key to Maryland’s recent success, culminating with winning the Maryland Invite MVP, and her success will largely help determine the team’s success.
- How will Maryland start its Big Ten campaign? The Terps had their best conference showing last season, finishing eighth with a 9-11 record. If Maryland wants to reach the NCAA Tournament after just missing out the last two seasons, they have to win double-digit games in the Big Ten, and Wednesday night will be the start of such aspirations.