Former associate head coach Adam Hughes will be Maryland volleyball’s fifth head coach in program history, executive athletic director Damon Evans announced Tuesday.
Hughes’ appointment offers stability to a program reeling after the loss of head coach Steve Aird last month, who engineered a rebuild in College Park, and the impending transfer of outside hitter Gia Milana as a result of Aird’s transition to Indiana.
“I am indebted to Steve Aird for bringing me with him to College Park four years ago and trusting in me to help revitalize Maryland volleyball,” Hughes said in a release. “My family and I are thrilled for the chance to continue the progress we have already made, and I couldn’t be more excited to embrace the opportunity.”
Hughes coached alongside Aird at Penn State and the duo remained together when Aird became Maryland’s head coach in 2014. Hughes was an assistant coach his first three years at Maryland and was associate head coach last season, when the Terps nearly reached their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005 with an 18-14 record, the best finish of Aird’s four-year tenure.
In 2015, AVCA named Hughes a top-30 up-and-coming coach. He primarily handled film and scouting duties for the Terps.
Hughes announced he will keep assistant coach Kristin Carpenter and director of operations Kyle Thompson on his staff. Aird, in an interview following his move to Indiana, had said his “home run” would be to bring his staff with him.
“We’re excited that Adam has retained Kristin and Kyle on his staff,” Evans said. “The continuity is very important as we are coming off a strong season.”
The hiring of Hughes offers a familiar figure for Maryland’s current players and recruits to rally around. Hughes coached class of 2018 recruit Rainelle Jones and 2019 recruit Cara Lewis at Metro Volleyball Club.
After Aird’s departure, Lewis feared a new head coach would not honor her commitment to play for Maryland, which seems unlikely with Hughes at the helm.
Jones played for Hughes as a freshman on Metro Volleyball, and his influence helped set Maryland apart from other schools interested in the Oxon Hill middle blocker.
“[Hughes] kind of talked about Maryland outside of the campus and made me feel out how cool it was,” Jones said in November. “It always set a difference between the other colleges.”
Since Hughes arrived at Maryland in 2014, he helped guide the Terps’ transition into the Big Ten. Maryland rose from No. 150 to No. 51 in RPI over the past four seasons.
Prior to Maryland, Hughes spent nine seasons at Penn State, his alma mater, as a volunteer assistant and Director of Volleyball Operations. He was a part of three national championships and eight Big Ten titles.
Hughes inherits a roster decimated by graduations and transfers — including Milana, the program’s best-ever recruit, planning on transferring to Baylor — leaving the Terps with just four attackers and two backcourt-focused players on the 2018 roster.
“Adam has helped change the culture and elevated our program to new heights over the past four seasons,” Evans said. “He is bright, energetic and a rising star in the sport of volleyball. Adam is an excellent in-game tactician and his strong reputation as a national recruiter will help continue to guide us in the ultracompetitive Big Ten.”