Maryland players huddle during the Terps' 3-1 win against Indiana on Oct. 27, 2017 (Joel Valley/The Left Bench).

Atlanta, Georgia to College Park, Maryland the journey of Nicole Alford

After playing 21 matches in the ACC freshman year, sophomore setter Nicole Alford decided it was time for a change to take her talents to the Big Ten. While at Georgia Tech, she started four matches her freshman year including posting a double-double (13 kills, 12 assists) against now Big Ten rival Michigan State. When choosing the right school to transfer to, an important part of the decision was the school offering the complete package. Alford wanted somewhere where she would not only enjoy the volleyball program, but so much more the school had to offer.

“I think the fact that it not only had the volleyball I wanted, but it had the school, the entire atmosphere,” Alford said. “And I know this is 100 percent the place I want to be.”

Normally when a player transfers, the butterflies start to kick in once the first practice begins in a new environment. Alford, on the other hand, did not feel nervous at all, in fact she was excited to get on the court and learn with her new teammates.

“I was really excited,” she said. “I wasn’t even nervous honestly because I was so comfortable already with the girls, the coaching staff and it was such a safe and fun environment to play volleyball in.”

Getting along with her teammates right away was an important step in easing the transition process for Alford. Building this sense of camaraderie will be extremely beneficial for the team’s long term success.

“I think it was the easiest transition I could have ever asked for, Alford said. “I think it was the whole team [that helped me transition so well], I can’t just say one person. All the girls are so great, and I think we all get along so well.”

Alford has played a vital role in the Terps lineup, facilitating the offense with 218 assists through six matches. Alford and the other hitters have already started to establish a connection early on in the season. She is optimistic about the team’s outlook and looking forward to the rest of the season.

“It’s really exciting to build something with our teammates. A lot of people aren’t expecting much out of us this year, so we’re excited to get out there and prove them wrong,” Alford said.

Despite the positive start to the season, she is still eager to learn more and further build chemistry with her teammates, which will be important with a grueling Big Ten Conference schedule looming ahead.

“We don’t talk about going 3-0 in a weekend, we talk about going 1-0 on the day, so we want to win that game and we want to win that practice,” said Alford. “A goal personally and for the whole team is just continue to win the day and keep getting better every single game.”

Coach Adam Hughes said he was pleased with the contributions from Alford as well as the other newcomers  during this 5-1 start to the season.

“Nicole keeps us in system pretty well, and she’s learning how to play with the other hitters around her,” Hughes said.

Tomorrow, Alford will have her first opportunity since the annual red-white scrimmage to perform in front of the home fans – an opportunity she is very much looking forward to.

“I’m feeling really excited and I think I’m ready. Going into this week we had a good week of practice and are gelling really well,” Alford said.

Alford looks to continue building on her positive start to the season in the Maryland Invitational this weekend beginning with the match against Colgate on Saturday morning.