As Maryland volleyball prepares for a weekend against two tough opponents in Purdue and Michigan, it has a chance to win 19 games for the first time in a decade.
With eight matches left in the season, the Terps only need two more wins to support their best overall season since Janice Kruger head coached the team in 2006.
To outside hitter Sam Csire, the underdog mentality has been a driving force for the team.
“I knew we wanted to really make our name known,” Csire said. “We said, ‘Shock the world.’ We want everyone to know our name, and I think the Wisconsin win helped us.”
Maryland started the season at 12-0 before heading into conference play. They were still the underdogs against a Wisconsin side ranked 2nd in the nation. Their 3-2 upset marked the biggest win in Terps volleyball history.
The past two seasons for Maryland have been disappointing, leaving them with a 5-15 conference record for both years. This season, however, the Terps already have six Big Ten victories under their belt, and currently hold a .500 record.
“I think we expected [our success]. I don’t think others really expected it, especially after our season last year,” said Csire. “What I think people need to realize is you have new players every year, and you have a new standard and different culture. You change things up. It’s not going to be the same team as it was last year.”
Since Kruger’s departure in 2008, Maryland volleyball has yet to have a winning record in conference play. Since moving to the Big Ten, the Terps have only supported a losing record.
Four years in, at a crucial juncture in his tenure, Coach Adam Hughes is beginning to see the fruits of his labor. He has expressed gratitude for the team’s recent improvement.
“I think this group’s done a good job of managing outside noise,” said Hughes. “Their approach to every practice has been a lot better than it’s been in the past.”
Maryland’s upcoming schedule is no walk in the park, however. Their next two matches involve eighth-ranked Purdue on Friday and Michigan, who they previously were swept by, on Sunday.
Still, the team is in high spirits.
“I would say we’re really confident,” said Csire. “We know we have the ability to beat the really good top 10 teams with our Wisconsin win. We’re able to play with those big teams.”