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Return of the POY: Colo.'s Nicole Dalton

The 2011-12 Gatorade State Volleyball Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for …

Name: Nicole Dalton

Position: Outside hitter/setter

Grade: Senior

School: Chaparral (Colo.)

College: University of Texas (verbal)

Height: 6-foot-2

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Colorado Volleyball Player of the Year ... No. 6 recruit in Class of 2012 as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com ... 2010 Class 5A All-Tournament Most Valuable Player ... 2010 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team selection ... 2009 Class 5A Second Team All-State selection as named by the Denver Post ... 2009 Amateur Athletic Union Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships All-American ... 2009 USA Volleyball Junior Olympic Championships All-Tournament Team selection

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Academics: 3.25 GPA

Extracurricular activities: church youth group ... youth volleyball instructor

Sally Moos, head coach of rival Cherry Creek High: "The thing that I saw with Dalton is that she sees the court very well. She’s deceptive with the shifts she can use. Dalton has the ability to hit different shots -- she can cut it, roll it and go to the deep corner. She can pass, serve, receive, play the front row, and block. She’s a very, very good all-around player."

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning volleyball underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11 …

Laura Steiner SR OH Fort Collins; Claire Felix JR MB Classical Academy; Corrine Din SR L Cherry Creek; Bethany Moss SR OH Fowler; Katherine Rifilato SR OH Bayfield; Nicole Edelman SR S/RS Fairview; Emma Pettit SR S Fossil Ridge; Morgan Wilkening SR MB Fleming; Victoria Kirkemo SR OH Cherry Creek; Sloan Lovett SR OH Durango; Janae VanDerPloeg SR OH Cheyenne Mountain

A dedicated POY team at ESPNHS manages the Gatorade Player of the Year program selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the award program’s behalf. Candidates are judged upon athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must also demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Any class year is eligible, senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at poy@risemag.com.