After Maryland volleyball’s 3-0 win over Rutgers Wednesday evening, coach Adam Hughes didn’t mince words about his squad’s performance.
“I didn’t think we played very well,” Hughes said. “We had a lot of missed serves. I thought we lost the serve and pass and that’s something that we try to pride ourselves on.”
Hughes’ message resembled a typical post-loss speech, given his critical rhetoric.
But Hughes’ words carried even more weight because his squad had just swept the visiting Scarlet Knights for the team’s 16th win of the season.
“We worked our way back into the match in the second and then almost gave it away in the third,” Hughes said. “But happy to get a 3-0 sweep regardless.”
From the onset of this season, it was apparent that holding his team to a high standard was paramount for Hughes.
After a disappointing five-win season in the spring, the Terps came back this fall with a newfound consistency that has garnered higher expectations for an ascending volleyball program.
At first glance, Maryland’s 3-0 victory seemed like a shellacking. With the Scarlet Knights unable to procure a set victory, all signs pointed to a comfortable, wire-to-wire victory for Hughes’ squad over a Rutgers program that had dropped its last nine contests.
However, Hughes was disappointed the Terps were forced to crawl out of mid-set holes throughout Wednesday’s match. An uncharacteristically high number of unforced errors held the team back from producing to its full potential.
“I look down in the stat sheet late in the second and we’re hitting close to .400, but we’re losing the set because we just can’t serve the ball in play,” Hughes said. “We gotta learn that if we want to become the program that I think we can be, those mental mistakes can’t happen.”
Star outside hitter Sam Csire mirrored Hughes’ thoughts following Wednesday’s battle.
“I mean, it’s not our best,” Csire said. “Missed a lot of serves which is not really us, so we relied a lot on our blocks and our offense to get us back in it, and we made a lot of digs which helped us a lot.”
[Sam Csire’s third-set hot streak propelled Maryland volleyball to win over Michigan State]
Csire posted an astounding 20 kills in just three sets of action Wednesday. After the match, she focused not on the evening’s final outcome or her staggering offensive performance, but on how her team can improve ahead of its next slate of Big Ten bouts.
Csire and the Terps will have just two days to recover before retaking the Xfinity Center Pavilion floor against Michigan State on Saturday.
Coach Cathy George’s Spartans, who Maryland vanquished on the road last weekend, will arrive in College Park coming off an upset victory over No. 7 Purdue on Wednesday evening.
But for a team that’s shown potential to make noise in a loaded Big Ten, gone are the days of relishing a sloppy conference victory. It’s right back to the drawing board.
“I’m sure they exposed us in some areas. I thought their one outside [hitter] Sarah Franklin had a great performance [with] 20 kills,” Hughes said of Michigan State. “[We’ll] see if we can limit her maybe a little bit more than we already did, but expecting it to be a good battle.”