Hawkeye volleyball rested and prepared for Maryland following week off

Iowa will take on Maryland in a road doubleheader this weekend.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa players huddle up before a women’s volleyball match between Iowa and Rutgers at Xtream Arena on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Hawkeyes 3 sets to 2.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

After its two games against Wisconsin were postponed last weekend because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Badger program, Iowa volleyball will return to the court this week in College Park, Maryland, for a matchup with the 2-10 Terrapins.

Ninth-place Iowa is four spots above Maryland in the Big Ten Conference standings, and both squads have won two of their last four matches.

“At the beginning of the season, we kind of knew that Maryland would be one of those teams that would be right where we are,” junior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio said. “It has always been us and Maryland duking it out to get one spot higher, so it’s a nice little rivalry I guess we have.”

Last season, Maryland finished right above Iowa in the Big Ten standings, but the Hawkeyes won the only matchup between the two squads.

The all-time series is tied up at five games apiece.

Attacking figures to play a pivotal role in the outcome of the Hawkeyes’ doubleheader with Maryland this weekend, as the Terrapins average 2.21 receiving errors per set.

The conference average for receiving errors per set is 1.37, and the second-worst team behind Maryland is Rutgers with 1.82.

“Maryland has really played against some of the top serving teams,” head coach Vicki Brown said. “A lot of the high [opponent] dig numbers are because they are out-of-system a lot more than they are used to getting out-of-system.”

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The Terrapins have played a tough schedule so far with matches against three ranked opponents.

Nevertheless, the Hawkeyes are confident that their improved serving numbers will help them down the Terrapins, as they rank seventh in the Big Ten in total service aces — up seven spots from their last-place finish in 2019-20.

“Our biggest thing is that we have to continue to serve aggressively against them, but Maryland is also one where they get a lot of touches defensively as well,” Brown said.

The Terrapins are currently the Big Ten’s best blockers, and they are led by Rainelle Jones, who ranks second in the league in blocks per set.

Brown said that her squad has been refining its blocking skills in preparation for a tough battle at the net this weekend.

With last week off, Iowa had ample opportunity to practice specific facets of the game without actively preparing to face an opponent.

“We got a lot of reps in and just worked out things within ourselves without focusing on an opponent directly,” Buzzerio said. “I thought it was a good week just to reset a little halfway through the schedule.”

At ninth place in the conference, the Hawkeyes will need to go on a run to fulfill their postseason aspirations.

“One win in the Big Ten is a big win,” Brown said. “The more that we get underneath our belt, the more that will drive us as we continue to go into the rest of this season.”

Iowa will face Maryland at the Xfinity Center Pavilion at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Both matches can be streamed on BTN+.