Maryland volleyball had not played a game that lasted longer than four sets through the first six games of the season.

But the Terps experienced closer competition this weekend in the Georgetown Classic, splitting five-set games against Princeton and Towson before defeating Georgetown in straight sets on Saturday evening.

In all three contests, coach Steve Aird said the team showed an edge it hadn’t needed to display earlier in the season. Maryland beat Princeton despite trailing, 12-9, in the fifth set and fought back being down two sets against Towson to even the score. The Terps also came back from a 15-9 third set deficit to beat the Hoyas.

While players were encouraged by their ability to come back this weekend, they hope to avoid falling behind in future matchups.

“We need to focus on just starting sooner,” senior middle blocker Ashlyn MacGregor said. “A lot of our games this weekend we started in a hole. With the teams that we’ll be playing, if we do that, we’re not going to be able to come back.”

The Terps lost to Towson 25-13 in the first set and 25-20 in the second set on Saturday afternoon before bouncing back to win two consecutive frames. However, they fell in the final set, 15-13.

Aird took responsibility for the team’s sluggish start, which he attributed to a lack of mental preparedness.

“That’s a really good volleyball team that we played, and the kids weren’t ready to go,” he said. “That’s my fault. I’ve got to get them ready from the first whistle.”

Still, Maryland had a chance to complete a comeback against the Tigers. In the final set the squad led, 13-12, but allowed three points in a row to seal the defeat.

MacGregor, who was named to the all-tournament team for the third straight week, said it was important to show the increased focus Maryland displayed in the second half of the Towson game at the beginning of contests, too.

“We know the game plan because we do scouting reports and film and stuff before games,” she said. “Really keying in on that and keeping our minds straight and just playing how we know how to play is important.”

For a young team with 10 underclassmen, MacGregor and Aird know they have to provide strong leadership to help inexperienced players reach their potentials early in games.

The middle blocker said she gave out tips on positioning to teammates this weekend based on scouting reports, while Aird pulled players aside during timeouts to give them additional advice.

Still, part of the growth of the squad’s newcomers will have to occur without guidance, the coach acknowledged.

“Sometimes as a coach you can explain things, you can show them and you can tell them,” Aird said, “but part of it is that we have to get to the point where they understand on their own that they can’t start slow.”

With a pair of top 25 matchups next weekend against No. 6 Washington and No. 24 Southern California, the Terps hope an attention to detail at the start of games will help them keep pace.

“In our conference, you get the doors blown off you if you start slow,” Aird said. “We have to take a look at that and make sure that we don’t leave ourselves in that position going forward.”