A very familiar face will play her first match at College Park this season, but this time she will be wearing white for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Erika Pritchard was not only been Maryland’s best player over the last four years but may be the best outside hitter in program history.
While at Maryland, Pritchard earned one AVCA All-Region award in 2018 and two All-Big Ten First-Team nods in 2018 and 2020. She also started in every match as a Terp, led the team in kills the last three years, and led the team in service aces in two of her four years. Pritchard left a lasting mark on the Maryland record book concluding her career second in kills (1,526), fourth in service aces (127), and first in total points (1,790).
During the coronavirus-abbreviated season, Pritchard was still very effective, averaging 3.48 kills per set, 0.33 aces per set, and 0.61 blocks per set.
The loss of Pritchard was a devastating blow to this Maryland roster who was desperate for familiarity, and the fact that she left for Happy Valley didn’t make the loss any easier.
While no longer the star of the team, Pritchard has been very good since arriving at State College. This season, Pritchard is third on the team in kills (88), second in service aces (10), and fourth in blocks (22).
The loss of Pritchard hasn’t been all bad, however, as somebody had to fill the vacant role. Outside hitters Sam Csire and Paula Neciporuka have been magnificent this season for the Terps and have played key roles in Maryland’s success. While Pritchard does average more blocks per set, Csire and Neciporuka both average more service aces per set, digs per set, and a higher hitting percentage.
Freshman outside hitter Erin Morrissey was also set up for a successful season before a left leg injury in Maryland’s season opener has sidelined her ever since.
Not to mention, Maryland has had its best start in over a decade and is on pace to reach the NCAA tournament since 2005.
The Terps will look to takedown Pritchard and the Nittany Lions in this emotional return, as Maryland continues to prove doubters wrong in hopes of cracking the top 25.