After a tough loss against No. 4 Illinois on Sunday, Maryland volleyball will have another opportunity to upset a ranked opponent, facing No. 15 Michigan on the road Wednesday.
The first time the two teams met, Michigan won in four sets, led by the outside hitter duo of senior Carly Skjodt and freshman Paige Jones.
Maryland enters the match 15-11 on the season and 6-8 in the conference, while Michigan enters the match at 19-6, fresh off an upset victory against No. 8 Wisconsin.
“Playing a team for the second time is in ways better, you get to watch it on film not on paper,” Maryland head coach Adam Hughes said.
Despite being a mostly young team, senior outside hitter Liz Twilley recognizes the importance of having a short memory and turning the focus to Michigan.
“No one is happy about the match we just played, but it’s important not to dwell on it,” Twilley said. “We have to get back in the gym this week keep practicing and get prepared for Michigan not let a match like this deflate us.”
Last time the Terps and Wolverines faced off Skjodt finished with 21 kills, accounting for more than half of the Wolverine offense. Hughes knows how important it will be to limit her success.
“Carly Skjodt, who I think is one of the best players in the conference, took over the match. [We] did not have a really good answer for her,” Hughes said.
The key to stopping Skjodt will be the success of the Terps blockers. The trio of freshman Rainelle Jones, redshirt freshman Katie Myers and freshman Emma Schriner will need be aware of where Skjodt is on the court at all times.
In addition to Skjodt, Jones is second in the conference in aces, only trailing Myers. The last time these two teams faced off, Jones finished with three of the team’s nine aces. Limiting the Wolverines success at the service line will be vital, ensuring that the serve does not move the Terps defense out of system.
Consistent offensive balance will be key for the Terps in the match as well. In their last meeting, the outside hitter duo of sophomore Erika Pritchard and Twilley finished with 32 kills. The Terps hit .429 in the first set which they won, while the final three sets they averaged a .056 hitting percentage.
Facing off against a strong defense, the Terps will need to maintain a strong attacking efficiency throughout the match. The duo of Myers and junior setter Samantha Snyder will be important for the Terps at the service line, moving the Wolverine defense out of system. When the defense is out of system it’s easier for Pritchard, Twilley and the other hitters to find gaps in the defense.
“Michigan went five sets with Illinois all duece games, we know that [Michigan] is another big time matchup with a big time team,” Hughes said.
The Terps will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday, first serve is slated for 7:00 p.m.