After an offseason of adjustment, new Maryland volleyball coach Adam Hughes' squad, featuring five first-year Terps, jumped up and down at the net when setter Samantha Snyder toppled Wake Forest with a service ace to conclude set three.
Hughes, who previously served as coach Steve Aird's associate head coach before Aird departed for Indiana in December 2017, has attempted to right a listing ship since his hiring in January. Four players also left the program following Aird's departure.
In response, Hughes added to Maryland's recruiting class and bulked up his roster with a few transfers. The Terps jumped out to a straight-sets win over Wake Forest (25-17, 25-15, 31-29), securing Hughes his first victory as a collegiate head coach in Maryland's season opener.
The Demon Deacons scored first in each of the first three sets, but Maryland was able to battle back from the early deficits.
After controlling both of the first two sets, the Terps had more trouble with Wake Forest in the third frame. The Terps fell behind 18-15 in the third, but with two consecutive blocks, continuing Maryland's dominance at the net, Maryland leveled the score and forced the Deacons to take a late timeout.
Off the timeout, the teams continued to go back and forth. With the score tied at 24, neither team was immediately able to string together the two points needed to seal the third set.
The Terps got their fourth match point when an error by Deacon outside hitter Myca Mitchell, who was blocked at the net by middle blocker Katie Myers and outside hitter Erika Pritchard, pushed the score to 30-29. Then, Snyder's service ace won the set and gave Maryland its first win of the season.
While Wake Forest had 114 total attacks to Maryland's 100, the Deacons were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. Wake Forest hit -.086 in the second set, which Maryland took 25-15.
Wake Forest suffered plenty of self-inflicted wounds, making 23 errors, including nine service errors for a hitting percentage of just .123. The Terps also controlled the net, out-blocking the Demon Deacons 9-6.
Setter Nicole Alford was a force in her first match as a Terrapin. The sophomore transfer from Georgia Tech had 26 of Maryland's 31 total assists. Pritchard notched a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs, and middle blocker Jada Gardner led the way with 12 kills.
While there was plenty of turnover for the Terps on and off the court in the offseason, they used clean hitting and controlled the net to dominate Wake Forest and start Hughes' tenure with a win.