Maryland volleyball bounced back in a big way last Saturday evening, pulling off a 3-0 sweep of the visiting Indiana Hoosiers to halt a four-game skid.
The Terps, who had seemingly lost their momentum following a sizzling 13-0 season-opening start, dominated in nearly every facet of their match against the Hoosiers. Led by senior middle blocker Rainelle Jones, Maryland held Indiana to .063 hitting percentage to vanquish former coach Steve Aird’s squad.
“Learning that we can come back after a tough loss against Northwestern [in] a five-setter is definitely a big win for our team,” Jones said. “That we can bounce back immediately to [win] another game and sweep another school.”
But Jones and the Terps won’t have long to bask in their dominant victory.
After a full week of practice, the Terps will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the streaking Wolverines on Friday evening. Led by 21-year coach Mark Rosen, Michigan recently upset No. 8 Minnesota in a program-defining win for a previously struggling squad.
“They’ve got a great trifecta of pins, they’ve got three complete outsides and an extremely good opposite [hitter], she’s got great range,” Hughes said. “What that presents a challenge with is even if you’re serving them tough and they’re playing out of system they can still hit their way out of trouble.”
Following its match against Michigan, Maryland will travel down the road to face off against Michigan State on Saturday to close out its two-game road series.
And while the Terps seem to be on a high following a comfortable conference victory, Hughes’ squad will likely be down one of its key starters for the road trip.
Freshman libero Milan Gomillion, who was struck in the head by a spike attempt in Maryland’s 3-2 loss to Northwestern last Friday, suffered a concussion, according to the team.
“The one thing that’s tough about those injuries [is] you never know how long they can last,” Hughes said. “With the severity of concussions we always take the safe route.”
Despite likely being down a starter, Jones and the Terps will look to keep rolling following their triumph over the Hoosiers.
Jones, who currently leads the NCAA in blocks per set, is coming off an 11-kill, 12-block evening against Indiana. Jones’ staggering performance garnered her Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades for the second time this season.
“[Practice has] been a lot more focused than it was in the past,” Jones said. “I feel like the team and myself are all working on little details that we’ve been focusing on and trying to make our team better throughout each game.”
While Maryland has struggled on the road so far this season and is still without a set victory in Big Ten play outside of Xfinity Pavilion, Hughes is confident in his squad as it heads north for its next bout of Big Ten battles.
“I think for us it’s [making] sure we handle the pressure of a road crowd, and I think this group will do well in that area,” Hughes said.