By Eric Myers
The key to any offensive attack in volleyball is getting consistent play from the setter position. The setter is responsible for passing the ball to the exact spot the hitters prefer the ball in rhythm with them leaping.
Samantha Snyder, a transfer from American University, is becoming increasingly acclimated with her teammates as the season progresses. In a match against Northwestern on Oct. 13, Snyder notched a career-high 40 kills en route to a five set victory for Maryland.
The typical transfer scenario entails coming into a new program during summer workouts and learning a whole new roster, system, and college environment. Snyder, however, transferred to Maryland and enrolled in the spring semester of last year, which has proved to be essential in her ability to gel with teammates in such a timely manner.
“We’re all growing together,” Snyder said. “It’s been a few months now since I’ve been here so we’re getting used to what we like and what’s the best for each hitter. Gia [Milana] likes it a lot quicker, and Erika [Pritchard], she jumps like crazy, so we have to adapt to each.”
As a freshman at American, Snyder played a smaller role on the team, acting as a serving specialist off the bench for an Eagles team that appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Now, Snyder is playing a prominent role on a Maryland team that also has postseason aspirations. The sophomore from California has been exposed to an uptick of competition this season, both in nonconference and conference play, and her confidence against elite teams has progressively improved throughout the season.
“She’s getting better as the year goes on, because she didn’t really play a lot last year,” head coach Steve Aird said. “Experience really matters, and experience playing in front of these crowds, and playing matches like the USC’s, Washington’s, and Penn State’s [of the world]. So she’s seen the best, and she’s been able to have success against those teams, and her confidence can grow after doing that.”
While already possessing some of the necessary skills to be effective as a setter, Snyder knew that building a relationship with each attacker would prove to be vital for her success on the court. Her teammates have lauded her commitment to becoming a consistent setter since she stepped onto campus. Citing her willingness to come to practice early, and stay late, Snyder has built that pivotal rapport with the hitters and middle blockers.
“Especially since she transferred in, she didn’t come in knowing our system, so we’ve had to spend extra time and she’s been really committed,” junior opposite hitter Angel Gaskin said. “She’s a really great setter, so it’s easy to gain that connection with somebody when they’ve got the skills.”
Since arriving at Maryland to rebuild the program, Aird has tried to keep opposing defenses off balance by building a fast paced offense that has the ability to strike from multiple positions on the floor. He has been able to recruit the players that have prowess finishing their kills, such as Milana, Pritchard, and Samantha Drechsel, among others. In Snyder, a player who will have two years of eligibility left after this season, he’s found a consistent facilitator for years to come in his desired attack.
“So much of it about being an elite attacker is you have to trust that your setter is going to put your ball in a window, and if it is, you can take a big swing at it,” Aird said. “[Snyder’s] been consistent that way, she’s been able to give us opportunities to take pretty big swings.”