Feature photo courtesy Maryland Athletics.

Terps head to West Virginia for Thunder Invite   

The Maryland Terrapins volleyball team looks to remain unbeaten as they prepare for this weekend’s Thunder Invite in Huntington, West Virginia.

Maryland kicks the tournament off against the University of Toledo (2-4) at 4:30 p.m. Friday, and will continue to look toward the team’s youth for an impact off the bench.

“We had the No. 9  recruiting class in the country and we had three of four Big Ten teams ahead of us,” head coach Steve Aird said. “It’s not like anyone is expecting us to win the conference … but they know that everyone they play night in and night out is going to be as good or better and that’s the challenge. How good can they get?”

These new recruits have quickly made their strengths known, as freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard notched 13 kills against Liberty last weekend.

However, her presence near the net hasn’t been her only forte. Pritchard, who had seven aces against Elon, will likely look toward her serving throughout Maryland’s matches this weekend.

The Thunder Invite will be a great opportunity for Aird and the Terps to work out any last minute kinks in their lineup before conference play starts. However, Aird has emphasized he’s not immediately concerned with other teams in the Big Ten.

“I talked to the team the other day about putting blinders on; almost like a race horse,” Aird said. “I don’t care what the other teams in the Big Ten are doing. I’m not concerned with that at all. I just want us to get better every day and every week.”

Aird has often emphasized the necessity of handling a tight road schedule, and the Terps’ defensive presence throughout the first two invitationals has been monumental. Maryland will need to maintain this mentality if they wish to continue strong on the road.

Junior libero Kelsey Wicinski and freshman middle blocker Katie Myers, who led the defense against Furman with 20 digs and 10 blocks, respectively, last Saturday, will need to sustain the team’s composure.  

Maryland will also face Virginia Tech (5-1) at 11 a.m. and Marshall University (2-6) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Probable Starters:

Middle Blocker: Hailey Murray

Middle Blocker: Katie Myers

Outside Hitter: Erika Pritchard

Outside Hitter: Gia Milana

Opposite Hitter: Angel Gaskin

Setter: Samantha Snyder

Libero: Kelsey Wicinski

 

Joel Valley
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Joel Valley

Volleyball Beat Writer & Photographer
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Joel has been the volleyball beat writer at The Left Bench since 2017. He is from Houston and an avid fan of the Texans, Rockets and Astros. In addition to writing, he is also a photographer – a lifelong passion of his.
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