COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Head coach Steve Aird welcomes the future of Maryland volleyball as the Terps reeled in five outstanding signees, comprising the best recruiting class in program history.
"Our 2017 class is skilled, tough and deep," Aird said. "Our staff's goal when arriving at Maryland was to build a program that could compete with the nation's best. We have been patient and trusted the process, and we are getting closer. We are excited to welcome this group to College Park next year.
The first phase of Maryland's signees is in line to be the highest-ranked class in program history. The Terps feature three Under Armour All-Americans, and Maryland also welcomes three athletes ranked in PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces as the top 100 players in the country and two on PrepVolleyball's 'The 150.'
Samantha Drechsel, who has the ability to play at both pins or at setter, is the No. 23 player nationally and an Under Armour First Team All-American. Outside hitter Erika Pritchard was ranked No. 29 in the nation by PrepVolleyball and was selected to the Under Armour All-American Second Team.
Outside hitter/middle blocker Jada Gardner is the class' third ranked player, coming in at No. 68 on PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces.
Defensive specialist Samantha Burgio, the 2015 New York Gatorade Player of the Year, was an Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American selection. Outside hitter Lexi Alden rounds out the class and was named to the Under Armour Watch List.
"Next season, we add young talent to a veteran core, which provides depth," Aird added. "Practices will be highly competitive, and everyone will be competing for playing time. 2017 is a very important year for our program, and we are wildly excited about the potential for a breakout season."
Alden, Burgio and Drechsel will enroll at Maryland in January while Gardner and Pritchard will join them in the spring.
The newest Terps will join a young, talented Maryland squad next year. Last season, the Terrapins had the first-ever ranked recruiting class in program history that came in at No. 16 nationally and featured Senior Aces Gia Milana and Katie Myers. Twelve of Maryland's 18 student-athletes next season will be underclassmen.
Included in PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces 'The 150' … set Catholic Memorial's record for most career kills with 1,495 ... led Catholic Memorial to three straight state championships in 2014, '15 and '16 ... named to Wisconsin's all-tournament team in each season ... 2016 Under Armour Watch List ... First Team All-Conference selection in 2016 ... Second Team All-Conference and All-State in 2015 ... named to JVA All-National team in 2014 ... selected to PrepVolleyball's Soph 79 and Frosh 59 lists ... also played club for Wisconsin Volleyball Academy.
Daughter of Donald and Lisa Roberts ... favorite pregame meal is a bagel ... before every match, she listens to a motivational speech, dances and gets a drink from Starbucks ... if she could play another sport at Maryland, it'd be softball ... wants to be an ophthalmologist.
aird on ALDEN
"Lex is a fantastic all-around volleyball player. She has a great feel for the game and will help our program in a variety of ways. She has had plenty of success at the prep level and we expect her to excel and contribute a great deal her freshman year. She has proven herself to be a great teammate and will attack any role she is given. She is thrilled to be part of our program and we are thrilled to have her."
ALDEN on maryland
"I knew when I visited Maryland that it was the right fit for me. Campus is in a great location, and I felt welcomed with open arms. I'm excited for a new challege and to help this program reach the next level."
2016 Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American ... 2015 New York Gatorade Player of the Year ... 2015 PrepVolleyball All-American ... selected to PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces 'The 150' ... named a 2016 PrepVolleyball Defensive Dandy as one of the nation's top defensive players ...2015 MaxPreps All-American ... 2015 Prep Talk and Section IV Player of the Year ... three-time First Team All-Conference selection in 2013, '14, '15 ... five-time state champion ... selected to PrepVolleyball's Soph 79 and Frosh 59 lists ... also played club for Niagara Frontier Volleyball Club ... helped Niagara to the 2014 GJNC National Championship and was named to the all-tournament team.
Daughter of Joel and Susan Burgio ... has one brother, Jacob ... if she could play another sport at Maryland, it'd be football ... biggest sports thrill is winning state championships ... sports hero is Matt Anderson ... member of the National Junior Honor Society ... volunteers as a youth volleyball coach ... enjoys painting ... intends to major in business.
aird on BURGIO
"Sam is an elite volleyball player. She had a decorated prep career and has achieved a great deal in the last few years. She is a competitor, a proven winner and she is not afraid to work. Sam is good defensively, can pass the ball and can serve for points. She is a character kid who will work tirelessly to improve and push people around her to do the same. We are very thankful to add a player with her skill set to our program."
BURGIO on maryland
"I grew up in a small family, and we are all very close. The atmosphere that the coaches have cultivated at Maryland revolves around that family feeling. I have so much love for the school, the team and the coaches, and I couldn't imagine going anywhere else. I believe I will be able to reach my full potential under the training and guidance of the coaching staff. Coach Aird believes in me, and I believe in the future of the program. Additionally, Maryland has one of the top business programs in the nation, and I'm excited to study there."
2016 Under Armour First Team All-American ... ranked No. 23 in her class by PrepVolleyball ... named to Seattle Times' Star Times team in 2015 ... first team all-state and all-area in 2015 ... holds high school records in six categories, including kill in a match (38) ... holds school record for kills in a season with 504 ... selected to PrepVolleyball's Top 50 Juniors list in 2015 ... member of PrepVolleyball's Sophomore 79 list in 2014 ... also plays club for Washington Volleyball Academy and has served as team captain for two seasons ... placed third in the Club 18 Open ... led team to sixth place finish at AAU Nationals.
Daughter of Thomas and Marni Drechsel ... has one brother, Trey ... mother played volleyball at Pacific Lutheran ... brother plays basketball at Western Washington ... biggest sports thrill was placing sixth at nationals ... favorite pregame snack is dark chocolate ... craziest ambition is to play volleyball in Europe.
aird on drechsel
"Sam has established herself as one of the nation's top prospects. She has an elite arm and can terminate from all over the court. At 6-foot-4, her size makes her an imposing force at the net, but it is her volleyball IQ that separates her from most of her peers. Sam has all the tools to be elite at the next level, and we believe she is just scratching the surface of her potential."
drechsel on maryland
"It's an incredible opportunity to play at Maryland. I believe in the coaching staff and the culture they're building. The university has a beautiful campus and great academics, and I can't wait to be a Terp."
PrepVolleyball's No. 68 player in class of 2017 ... three-time First Team All-District selection ... set school record for kills in a match with 42 ... selected to PrepVolleyball's Top 50 Juniors in 2014 ... also played club for Alamo Volleyball Association ... led team to third place finishes at 2015 AAU 16 Premier and 2016 GJNC 17 National tournaments ... selected to both all-tournament teams ... academic all-district selection from 2013-16 ... Academic All-State selection ... member of National Honor Society.
Daughter of Edgar and Stephaine Gardner ... mother competed in track & field at Minnesota ... niece of Shane Battier ... favorite pregame meal is pasta ... intends to major in public health.
aird on gardner
"We are very lucky to have an athlete of Jada's caliber in our program. She is an exceptional talent and is just starting to realize her potential as a volleyball player. We believe that Jada will be ready to compete for a starting spot from Day 1. She is physical enough to compete in this conference and we have shown we are not afraid to throw freshman in the fire. She is quiet, but wildly competitive and I fully expect her to thrive in our program."
gardner on maryland
"Maryland is everything I could ask for to continue my volleyball and academic careers. I fell in love with the school and the coaching staff. Coach Aird has a great vision for the program, and I'm excited to be a part of it."
Before MarylandRanked No. 29 recruit in the 2017 class by PrepVolleyball ... 2016 Under Armour Second Team All-American ... named to PrepVolleyball's preseason All-American Watch List ... 2015 PrepVolleyball High Honorable Mention All-American ... set seven school records at Middletown, including career kills ... Frederick News Post Player of the Year and all-county first team in 2015 ... 2015 all-conference selection ... all-county and all-league first team selection in 2014 ... second team all-county and all-league selection in 2013 ... named to PrepVolleyball's Frosh 59, Soph 79 and Top 50 Junior Recruits lists ... also played club for Metro Volleyball Club of DC ... named to the USAV Girls Jr. National Championships All-Tournament Team in 2016 ... ASICS Capitol Hill Classic Best Attacker.
Daughter of Mike and Angela Pritchard ... has two older brothers, Kyle and Adam ... Kyle is a student at Maryland ... father played tennis at Wisconsin-Eau Claire ... National Honor Society member ... volunteers wtih Caitlin's Smiles, Frederick County Animal Shelter and Frederick Christian Fellowship Church Driven Ministry.
aird on pritchard
"Erika is one of the nation's most impressive attackers. Her overall game has continued to grow and it will certainly continue to improve as she becomes acclimated to the college game. She will be a six-rotation outside hitter who can block, defend and has an outstanding serve. She is very proud to represent her home state, loves our University and when it is all said and done, will end up one of the best players to ever play at the University of Maryland."
pritchard on maryland
"I’m honored and excited to continue my academic and volleyball career at Maryland. I chose UMD because it’s a well-respected university in a top-notch conference, and especially because Coach Aird has such great vision for his program. I believe in the people he’s been bringing together and I want to have a role in building something great here. It also gives me an amazing feeling of pride to know I will be representing my home state of Maryland."