A bruised Maryland volleyball team returned to College Park on Sunday evening.
The Terps were hours removed from their 25-12 third-set thumping against No. 22 Ohio State, which sealed Maryland’s 3-0 loss in Columbus. Coach Adam Hughes called his team’s performance one of the worst he’s seen since taking over in 2018.
Maryland finished Sunday’s match with the lowest hitting percentage a Hughes-led squad has ever posted.
Hughes said there’s “a big difference” between simply reacting to adversity versus responding to it — the latter reflects a team’s resolve. He saw a glimpse of the Terps’ mettle during their first practice of the week on Tuesday ahead of Maryland’s home contests with No. 16 Minnesota on Friday and Indiana on Saturday.
“[The] energy was great,” he said. “That’s what I love about the team. They want to be known for being resilient, and I thought [Tuesday] was awesome.”
The Terps’ focus this week has been on limiting opponents’ scoring runs — Ohio State scored four or more consecutive points on six different occasions Sunday. Maryland has looked toward the USA Volleyball national team for guidance.
Hughes said the Terps watched film of the national team in the preseason and paid attention to how the players reacted to each rally. The purpose was to recognize how body language was just as vital as execution when preventing a set from spiraling out of control.
Maryland’s weak offensive output on Sunday — nobody logged more than five kills — was less of a concern for the coach. He emphasized that the team’s diverse attack has been one of its most valuable assets this season.
“That was the first time we really felt like we had a lot of individual performances that maybe weren’t going well,” he said.
Hughes still has plenty of options on the attack — his squad leads the Big Ten with nine players who average at least one kill per set. Two of the Terps’ seniors have spearheaded Maryland’s multifaceted production.
Sam Csire and Samantha Schnitta lead the Terps with 2.94 and 2.74 kills per set, respectively, and have quickly jelled in their first season as teammates after Schnitta transferred from Ole Miss in January.
Csire said she texted Schnitta after they struggled on offense in Maryland’s loss to Navy on Sept. 3, challenging the pair to seize their roles as “game changers.” Both obliged — either Csire or Schnitta has led the Terps in kills in six of the team’s 10 matches since.
“Our mindset toward the game is very similar,” Csire said.
She and Schnitta agreed Sunday’s loss in Columbus didn’t reflect Maryland’s identity.
They stressed the importance of quickly moving on to prepare for a Minnesota squad that the Terps are 0-18 against all-time. And while Hughes’ team’s most recent match left little to feel inspired about, he hopes Maryland’s strong response in practice on Tuesday is a harbinger of a historic win on Friday.
“I’ve got a list of things that we haven’t accomplished yet,” he said. “It builds the anticipation so that when it happens, it’s gonna feel pretty good.”