After two Maryland volleyball attack errors gave Indiana a one-point lead, the Terps were in dire need of a spark against a team that had swept them just 24 hours earlier.
The very next point, a Hoosier putaway try was corralled by a Maryland defender and tossed deftly into the air for a waiting Sydney Dowler. She then lobbed the ball over to Sam Csire, who punished Indiana with a rocketing cross-court kill.
Freshmen Dowler and Csire proved to be exactly what the Terps needed, as they subsequently ran off six straight points en route to a third-set victory and a 3-1 win over the Hoosiers on Saturday.
Csire was dynamite for the Terps. The outside hitter, who had played sparingly for coach Adam Hughes’ squad in previous matches, burst onto the scene with a 16-kill, 14-dig performance — a huge factor in the team’s second victory of the season.
“I thought Sam Csire had one of her best performances to date,” Hughes said. “She stepped up and took some really confident swings at clutch situations.”
For Csire, veteran leadership has helped foster her growth into a potent force in Maryland’s attack.
“I think upperclassmen have done a good job of really supporting us,” Csire said. “Knowing that you have them out with you just [makes] the game a little bit easier and sort of takes the pressure off a little bit when you know that you have them for support.”
Csire and Dowler have worked alongside seniors Nicole Alford and Erika Pritchard, among other veterans, in their brief time in College Park. It’s allowed the freshmen to gain valuable experience as they begin their journey for the Terps.
Pritchard and Csire drove Maryland’s offense in the win. The duo combined for 33 kills, clobbering Indiana with an array of high-powered attacks in tight spots for Maryland.
“Me and Erika, we talked a lot today about like, what’s working, what’s not, and so I think communication between each other is just what really builds a bond between each other.” Csire said.
And Dowler, who started over Alford at the setter position, enjoyed a career night in Bloomington, Indiana. The freshman posted a double-double, accumulating 37 assists, 14 digs, four kills and two blocks to the delight of her head coach.
“We got Syd Dowler her first start, and I thought she performed pretty well,” Hughes said. “She was hurt at the beginning of the season for a couple weeks with a finger injury … she’s kind of settled in a little bit, and she got her first start, and I thought she had good poise.”
As Maryland continues to navigate a 2021 season marred by COVID-19 and Big Ten-only play, it will undoubtedly lean on its youth as it did in Saturday’s victory.
And with Csire and Dowler emerging as young stars for the Terps, it seems as though the team’s chemistry is peaking at just the right time.
“I’m really thankful for honestly every single player on this team,” Dowler said. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity that I got to play with them and to learn from them … and I love being around them.”