B1G changes are underway for the Maryland volleyball program. With a new coaching staff and a challenging schedule on the horizon, the Terps are poised to take the program to new heights as it transitions into the Big Ten Conference. Follow along with our weekly installment of the Maryland Volleyball Summer Series as we take an inside look at the program leading up to first serve on August 29 against Elon.
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Inside Maryland Training Camp
Sweat drenched the floors of the XFINITY Center Pavilion late Tuesday night as head coach Steve Aird put a bow on the Maryland volleyball team’s 12th practice in four days to open training camp.
Dismayed by an anticlimactic 15th point in the fifth set of their scrimmage moments before, junior Emily Fraik and her teammates requested the set be extended to 25 points.
“We had just played our butts off on the court and we wanted to go out with a bang,” Fraik said. “You want the last point of a close match to be something worthwhile.”
As the clock ticked past 9:30 p.m., Aird obliged to the request before adding in a bit of extra conditioning following the scrimmage.
“They wanted to play longer, so I took it as an opportunity to grind,” Aird said. “We did a drill that demanded they work really hard and the fact that this group responded so well is pretty cool since we’ve only been here four or five months.”
Since taking over the reins of the volleyball program at the beginning of 2014, Aird has put a premium on the value of open communication between the coaching staff and players – a standard he took from his mentor at Penn State, head coach Russ Rose.
“What I’ve learned in coaching is that teams want honesty,” Aird said. “They want you to be direct, they want to know what their role is and they want to know where they stand. We want everyone on the team to develop and get better, but we also have to tell them when they’re underperforming or need to improve in certain areas.”
Fraik, who is entering her third season with the program, has noticed the difference at training camp.
“There’s no sugar coating anything from the coaching staff – it’s ‘this is where we are and this is where we need to be,’” Fraik said. “It’s refreshing to hear their feedback and we are all very open to it.”
Fraik emerged as one of the Terps’ top outside hitters in 2013, notching 208 kills and 158 digs as she gained a role in the starting lineup. The then-sophomore posted a double-double during a torrid three-match span against Marshall, Georgia Tech and Clemson midway through the season.
Since opening training camp this season, Fraik has placed an emphasis on her first touch and positioning around the court as she looks to build on her 2013 campaign.
“A big thing we’ve been focusing on is seeing what our teammates our doing so we can be better prepared to attack the ball,” Fraik said. “We’ve focused on using our eyes and brain to guide our movements.”
Aird echoed Fraik’s sentiments on the value of being able to read the game.
“A player’s ability to read the game can make average players good players, and good players great players,” Aird said. “Kids at this level know the skills. I tell people 80 percent of the game you can learn in months, but it takes years to learn the last 20 percent and become elite and efficient at reading the sport.”
In addition to Fraik’s prowess on the court, the Wyoming, Ohio, native is an incredible student in the classroom. An engineering major, Fraik holds the highest GPA on the team and spent the summer in Delaware interning with W.L. Gore & Associates developing water repellent fabrics.
Fraik and the Terrapins will continue training camp next week as they host three open scrimmages in the Pavilion at 6 p.m. on Aug. 16, Aug. 20 and Aug. 23. The Terps also plan to hold an event for friends of the program in Heritage Hall prior to the Aug. 23 scrimmage.