In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Cassidy Stankowski of Frontier Regional as its 2011-12 Gatorade Massachusetts Volleyball Player of the Year. Stankowski is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Volleyball Player of the Year to be chosen from Frontier Regional.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Stankowski as Massachusetts’ best high school volleyball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award announced in December.
The 5-foot-8 junior outside hitter led the Red Hawks to a 23-1 record and the Division 3 state title this season. Stankowski recorded 276 kills, 143 digs, 76 service aces and 20 blocks while posting a hitting percentage of .547. A three-time Division 3 first team All-State selection and a four-time Northern League All-Star, she recorded 87 kills, 50 digs and 29 service aces in five postseason matches this fall, including 24 kills and 16 digs in a 3-0 win over Case for the state title.
Stankowski has maintained a 3.68 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally at the Baystate Medical Center, on behalf of a literacy-outreach program and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with her church.
“Cassidy Stankowski is as dominant a player that I have ever seen at this level,” Melrose High head coach Scott Celli said. “She single-handedly beat Case for the state title.”
Stankowski joins recent Gatorade Massachusetts Volleyball Players of the Year Maura Manley (2010-11, New Bedford High School), Morgan Thatcher (2009-10, Brockton) and Caitlin Barrett (2008-09, Medfield) among the state’s list of former award winners.
Here's a look at the other New England winners:
CONNECTICUT - KYLEY REED, ROCKY HILL
The 6-foot-1 senior outside hitter and opposite led the Terriers to an 18-4 record and the Class M state title this past season. Reed recorded 578 kills, 460 digs, 133 service aces and 31 blocks while posting a hitting percentage of .598. A 2011 American Volleyball Coaches Association Under Armour First Team All-American selection, Reed was the Class M State Tournament MVP and a three-time Class M First Team All-State selection. She concluded her prep volleyball career with 1,517 kills, 1,097 digs and 362 service aces.
Reed has maintained a 3.37 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit breast cancer research and on behalf of a park beautification project
“Kyley Reed is a kid that raises the level of play of those around her,” said Darien Head Coach Laurie LaRusso. “She is very talented yet doesn’t act better than anyone else. She’s a hard worker, a team player and is coachable with tremendous skill.”
Reed has verbally committed to play volleyball on an athletic scholarship at Rice University beginning in the fall of 2012.
MAINE - BRITTANY BONA, SCARBOROUGH
The 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter recorded 224 kills, 119 digs and 69 service aces this past season while leading the Red Storm (14-3) to the Class A state final. Bona is a two-time First Team All-State selection and was named The Forecaster Fall Athlete of the Year.
Bona has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally delivering food to the needy and assisting special education students at her school.
“She hits the ball well and she serves with power and accuracy,” said Ruth Shaw, head coach of rival Biddeford High. “She also blocks consistently well, and what is most amazing is that she can play the back row like a libero.”
Bona remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - KELSEY BERRY, HOLLIS/BROOKLINE
The 5-foot-8 senior outside hitter led the Cavaliers to a 20-2 record and the Division I state title this past season. Berry recorded 224 kills, 220 digs, 73 service aces, 21 assists and four blocks while posting a kill percentage of .382. Berry was nearly flawless in the postseason, committing just 13 total errors in the final three matches for a 95.2 percent success rate. A Division I First Team All-State selection, she recorded 17 kills and 15 digs in Hollis Brookline’s 3-1 win over Merrimack in the state title match.
Berry has maintained a 3.91 GPA in the classroom. The president of the Hollis-Brookline High student body, she has volunteered locally as a peer tutor, a youth volleyball and basketball coach, and as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit breast cancer research.
“Kelsey Berry’s a good player,” said Dan Young, head coach of Salem High. “She was their libero last year, their outside this year. She’s solid—a very good passer and a very strong hitter. She’s very consistent, very solid and very tough.”
Berry remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
RHODE ISLAND - KELSEY LACE, MOUNT ST. CHARLES
The 6-foot senior outside hitter recorded 281 kills, 116 digs, 80 service aces and 39 blocks this past season while posting a hitting percentage of .537 and leading the Mounties (17-1) to the Division I state semifinals. The 2011 Rhode Island Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Year, Lace recorded double-digit kills in 16 of 18 matches, including 21 kills in a 3-1 loss to Ponaganset in the state semifinals.
Lace has maintained a 3.91 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally as an elementary school aide, a peer Spanish tutor and as part of fundraising campaigns to benefit ovarian cancer and autism research.
“Kelsey Lace has a good whip, a big block and can do pretty much everything—even take tickets at the match,” said Scott Reslow, head coach of Toll Gate High. “Kelsey always seemed to be the best player in the gym night in and night out.”
Lace has verbally committed to play volleyball on an athletic scholarship at New York’s University of Saint Rose beginning in the fall of 2012.