Maryland volleyball coach Adam Hughes didn't know what to expect from his team entering the season. Five players are first-year Terps, and three of them have been regulars.
Starting the year with two tournaments on the road offered Hughes a chance to gauge how his young players would jell. Through two weekends, Maryland went 5-1 and dropped just four sets.
After a productive start that displayed the young roster's mettle, Hughes is looking forward to the home opener at Xfinity Pavilion during the Maryland Invite, where the Terps will face Colgate, South Carolina and Liberty.
"I like being on the road to start the year and see how they react to things," Hughes said. "But obviously, we like having our fans here, and it's good to be home for the best-quality tournament we've played so far."
Each of Maryland's three opponents feature at least three players who have accumulated more than 50 points (a combination of kills, service aces and blocks). So freshmen Allegra Rivas and Rainelle Jones — the team's leaders in digs and blocks, respectively — will be called upon heavily.
The Terps' attack has frequently started slow, trading points with opponents before pulling away late. Hughes said the trend is a result of wanting to feel out Maryland's foe rather than fall victim to early miscues with overly aggressive play.
South Carolina seems to pose the biggest threat to the Terps this weekend. The Gamecocks (6-1) have spread around their attack, with five players notching at least 40 kills, and have totaled 50 blocks as a team.
Maryland has found success at the net this year, but it could be a challenge to gain the upper hand against South Carolina. Middle blockers Claire Edwards and Mikayla Robinson have combined for 44 rejections.
And while Colgate and Liberty have both started the season 2-4, Hughes has preached for his unit to not overlook any team.
"With tournaments like these, you almost have to have amnesia," Hughes said. "Win or loss, you don't have a lot of time to be worried about what happened before."