On paper, Maryland volleyball’s match against Le Moyne represented a rare soft spot in the Terps’ rugged nonconference slate.
The Dolphins entered Friday’s game as a first-year Division I program that had lost all but a single set through seven winless matches. Their inexperience showed from the outset.
Maryland emptied its bench and slugged 38 kills across three lopsided sets as it outclassed Le Moyne, 3-0, in the team’s first match of the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic in Fort Myers, Florida.
“That’s one of our strengths,” Maryland coach Adam Hughes said of the team’s depth. “… We were able to use it today and I thought overall the group did a good job for the most part staying really clean.”
The Terps (8-2) rolled out their reserves right away against the Dolphins (0-8), who were swept earlier in the day by Florida Atlantic.
Zoe Huang and Ellie Watson earned their first starts of the season at setter and middle blocker, respectively, in place of usual starters Sydney Dowler and Anastasia Russ. Huang dished out 12 assists, while Watson bundled five kills, four blocks and one of Maryland’s eight service aces.
Laila Ricks and Erin Morrissey each provided two early kills before Erin Engel bombarded the Dolphins with three aces within a span of four points to put the Terps ahead 9-2.
Morrissey, who has played sparingly since returning last November from a torn ACL, led Maryland with nine spikes while filling in for outside hitter Sam Csire in her first start since Aug. 25.
“After I got the second kill I was, like, ‘Okay, I can get in a groove now,” Morrissey said. “I felt a lot more comfortable swinging.”
Ricks and Eva Rohrbach teamed up for a pair of blocks and each added a spike during a 5-1 surge that widened the Terps’ lead to double digits midway through the frame.
From there, Maryland never cracked a window to let Le Moyne slip back into the set. The Terps prevented the Dolphins from holding a service rotation longer than three points and stifled Le Moyne to six kills throughout the stanza.
Ricks, Morrissey and Watson each smacked four kills to lead a cast of six different scorers for Maryland, which clubbed 17 putaways and nailed down its 25-12 win on Watson’s final spike of the set.
“We wanted to make sure everyone was prepared, including myself,” Hughes said. “… Not to toot my own horn, I just thought they did a really good job being mindful, being engaged and competitive from start.”
The Dolphins’ Kayla Anstett logged two putaways during the Terps’ most turbulent stretch of the afternoon as both sides split the first ten points of the second stanza.
Russ came off the bench and made Le Moyne pay for a service error with three kills and a block amid a string of eight straight Maryland points that quickly put the frame out of reach.
But the redshirt senior wasn’t done. Russ spearheaded another five-point run by the Terps with three straight blocks before she tacked on her fourth spike of the set two points later.
“Russ has always been like that,” Hughes said. “She can take a little bit of a break, jump right back in and just be who she is.”
Maryland sat back with its mammoth lead and watched the Dolphins commit three straight errors to put the Terps at set point, which Watson converted for the second time in as many frames to complete Maryland’s 25-9 romp.
Freshman Alex McGillivray dumped a trio of aces on the Dolphins to help Maryland snatch 16 of the first 20 points of the third stanza. Watson chipped in another, while Engel and Huang each tacked on a rare kill to propel Maryland to a 25-10 set three win and its most dominant victory so far this season.