The University of Maryland has promoted Adam Hughes to become the 5th head coach in program history. He replaces the outgoing Steve Aird, his former boss, who left to take over the program at fellow Big Ten institution Indiana at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The 33-year old spent last season as associate head coach after 3 years as an assistant from 2014-2016. Hughes also announced that he will retain assistant coach Kristin Carpenter and director of operations Kyle Thompson.
He has been a part of a major rebuild of the Maryland program which included an 18-win season last year: the best total since 2010. The team has also drawn 8 of their 10 best attendances in that period. In 2015, Hughes was named a recipient of the “Thirty Under 30” award from the AVCA.
The moves will bring continuity to the program even without its architect Aird at the helm. After consecutive years of nationally-ranked recruiting classes, Maryland opened the 2017 season 11-0 last year before a series of injuries (including to their all-conference libero, as well as their captain and redshirt freshman middle blocker) derailed the team to a 7-14 finish to the year.
“We had a thorough and extensive national search but throughout the process, Adam distinguished himself as the ideal head coach in this new era of Maryland volleyball,” athletics director Damon Evans said. “Adam has helped change the culture and elevated our program to new heights over the past four seasons. He is bright, energetic and a rising star in the sport of volleyball. Adam is an excellent in-game tactician and his strong reputation as a national recruiter will help continue to guide us in the ultracompetitive Big Ten. A big part of Maryland’s ascension has been due to his tireless work with our student-athletes to achieve on and off the court. We are excited and confident that with Adam’s vision, he will continue to build upon the success that he has established in College Park.”
“We’re excited that Adam has retained Kristin and Kyle on his staff,” Evans said. “The continuity is very important as we are coming off a strong season. We feel this talented staff will help Maryland volleyball continue to make the necessary progress and continue our ascension in the Big Ten.
The team will have to rebuild again in 2018 – since the announcement of Aird’s departure, at least two major pieces of the team have transferred: their 2017 kills leader Gia Milana is transferring to Baylor, while libero Kelsey Wicinski is heading to Florida State. Milana’s mother specifically cited Aird’s departure as a reason for her transfer, saying that Maryland wasn’t a “perfect fit” but that Aird’s presence helped close that gap. The team also graduates 2017 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention middle blocker Hailey Murray and libero Samantha Higginbothem. The team does return Erika Pritchard
and Samantha Dreschel for significant size at the hitting positions, as well as setters Samantha Snyder and Abigail Bentz. The return of a healthy Katie Myers in the middle would help their cause as well.
Update: top 25 national recruit and rising sophomore Samantha Dreschel has announced that she too will transfer, to Washington.