Against then-No. 6 Nebraska on Nov. 8, Maryland volleyball's Gia Milana notched four kills with a -.048 hitting percentage. That performance followed her -.028 attacking clip against then-No. 8 Wisconsin on Nov. 4. She's hit below .100 five times during this year's Big Ten slate.
But there are other moments — such as her 21-kill performance in a five-set win over Northwestern on Oct. 13 and her 14-kill effort against No. 1 Penn State last weekend — when Milana's attacking prowess shines, displaying what made her the highest-ranked recruit to ever join the Terps.
With four matches left in her sophomore year, the outside hitter is still seeking the consistency of a star player, despite leading the Terps in kills for the second straight season.
Ahead of Maryland's first two home matches of the month, Milana has the chance to extend her crisp attacking from that Penn State outing and help her squad's NCAA tournament resume against Iowa and now-No. 5 Nebraska.
"She's just had matches this year where she's been really mature and focused and some matches where she's not," coach Steve Aird said. "She's in control of her game when she wants to be, and she needs to be a little bit mentally tougher at times."
Milana said she didn't utilize her attacking game plan leading up to the Nebraska match. It cost her and her team.
Cornhuskers defenders blocked Milana in set one for her first error. After that, she hit four more balls out of play during the straight-sets defeat. It was her second-lowest kill total this season, behind a three-kill, -.154 attacking display against Wisconsin on Oct. 18.
Outside hitter Erika Pritchard said Milana prefers to be alone after miscues.
"After that I got really frustrated and I … started to do everything I possibly could to prepare myself for Penn State," Milana said. "Practice was pretty tough that week, so I feel like me personally, I really went after it and tried to do everything I could, went hard for every single ball, was really, really mindful offensively."
Incorporating the types of shots she anticipated would work against the Nittany Lions during training helped Milana prepare for a bounce-back performance.
Aird said Milana took a step in the right direction versus the Nittany Lions in terms of following his game plan. When Milana has pieced together a few kills this season, she's found a rhythm earlier in the match.
"I feel like I've been so worried about making errors instead of just playing how I play," Milana said. "So mostly just not worrying about who's on the other side of the court, just going after it."