Maryland volleyball losing streak slows high expectations

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Two weeks ago, an optimistic Maryland volleyball unit was in prime position to possess the best season since 2006, with the potential for a tournament appearance.

Since then, Maryland has lost four straight.

Maryland was able to keep it close against a tough Purdue side at home, but when it came to facing Michigan, they had no answer. Maryland fell on the losing side of a sweep.

A four-match road trip was up next as they headed to Nebraska. Things got ugly when fans threw insults at several Maryland players who chose to kneel during the national anthem.

When the match began, 11th ranked Nebraska was too much for Maryland to handle, and they were again swept. It was the first time all year that Maryland was swept in back-to-back matches.

The day after, Maryland faced an easier opponent in Iowa, who at that point were 2-13. 

The Hawkeyes played spoiler, rocking a .323 hitting percentage in the last three sets, upsetting Maryland and sending them into their second four-match losing streak of the season.

Maryland’s optimism recently hasn’t matched their success, but coach Adam Hughes likes the look of the team as they head into Friday’s match against Northwestern.

“I liked the vibe in practice this week so far,” said Hughes. “I think they’ve had pretty good energy. I think they’re just trying to maximize what they have left, and they’ve got four really good matches in front of them.”

Maryland played Northwestern earlier this year. The Wildcats narrowly got the victory in a five-set thriller.

“We fixed a few things that we know we want to do better, execution-wise,” said middle blocker Hannah Thompson. “So, I think we’re pretty excited to be able to get to see them.”

The Terps will have their hands full trying to slow down Northwestern outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara, who leads the Big Ten in kills.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” said Hughes. “[Thomas-Ailara’s] someone who you can do everything right and she can still find ways to score.”

Following a Friday match at Northwestern, Maryland will have a day to rest before their final road match against Illinois. 

Maryland might have encountered a fork on the road, but the squad remains optimistic.

“It was a tough weekend,” said Thompson. “But I think we’re up in spirits right now, just knowing that we have some time to get back in the gym and get back out again this weekend.”