When head coach Adam Hughes and Maryland volleyball crafted their 2023 schedule, Miami represented a key test: An early-season matchup against an opponent with NCAA tournament experience.
The Hurricanes appeared in last season’s bracket and returned all six of their primary starters — their experience showed from the outset.
Flormarie Heredia Colon blitzed the Terps with five kills on as many swings in the opening frame and finished with 13 putaways as Miami powered past Maryland 3-1 Friday in Coral Gables.
“Their offense is very fast,” Hughes said. “… Trying to build a team defense around [Miami] is challenging when they’re scoring from multiple places.”
Angela Grieve matched Heredia Colon with 13 kills for the Hurricanes, who also got 14 from Peyman Yardimci and 12 from Janice Leao.
Miami blew 31 putaways past Maryland against just four attack errors throughout the first two frames, enough to mount a commanding 2-0 lead.
The Terps clamped down on defense and forced a fourth frame that turned into a back-and-forth affair, but consecutive aces by Milana Miosio ballooned the Hurricanes’ lead down the stretch.
Maryland desperately played catch-up and pulled within 24-23 until Anastasia Russ was whistled for a net violation that halted the Terps’ spirited rally and sealed the loss.
“My talk to the team was that there’s two ways you can look at it,” Hughes said.“You can come back and say ‘moral victory’ and relax on the fact that you played pretty well against a really good team on the road, or you can be driven by that and realize we … still have lots of things we gotta get better at and if we can do that, we can be a really, really good team.”
Samantha Schnitta paced Maryland with 16 kills, Eva Rohrbach contributed nine and outside hitters Sam Csire and Laila Ivey each added eight, but the Terps’ sloppiness early on proved too much to overcome.
After committing 15 service errors against Florida International, Hughes’ squad remained inconsistent beyond the endline in the opening set. Schnitta’s cluster of early putaways proved moot as Maryland couldn’t stay out of its own way.
“We wanted to serve aggressively,” Hughes said. “That’s kind of how our defense in predicated. We have to cause a lot of damage.”
The Terps misfired on five serves and never scored consecutive points throughout a set the Hurricanes did all the damage in, using an uber-efficient attack to hit .773 en route to a 25-13 drubbing.
Maryland’s underclassmen stepped up on the attack in the second set and belted seven of the Terps’ 10 kills in the frame to keep the visitors within striking distance.
Ivey, a sophomore, and Rohrbach, a freshman, each pounded three putaways, and freshman Jonna Spohn added another kill and tucked in a deftly placed ace that helped Maryland remain within striking distance late in the frame.
Rohrbach’s final kill of the stanza pulled the Terps to within one, but Maryland would get no closer and fell within a set of being swept.
The Terps hung around in the third behind an active defense that racked up 20 digs to keep Miami’s attack at bay.
“We were through the first set and had three digs, so we basically said ‘Hey, we have to go a little bit smaller and see if we can at least get more touches,’” Hughes said. “I thought [Spohn] did a pretty good job coming in in a tough spot.”
In that frame, Csire started to find creases in the Hurricanes’ block and belted her fifth kill of the set to stave off a late Miami rally and force a fourth stanza.
But that set — punctuated by Russ’s violation — ended Maryland’s comeback and with it, the chance to ace an early exam.