The Gatorade Player of the Year Program honors athletes who meet comprehensive and exacting criteria in high school sports. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders also must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Aces rankings.
That being said, the state’s top five recruits as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …
1. Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.) right-side hitter Annie Drews
PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 29
Club: Circle City Gold
College: Purdue University (verbal)
John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A tall lefty who can hit with power and precision, Drews was a relative unknown when she committed to Purdue. By the time she 'blew up' as a player at AAU Nationals last summer, showing off her imposing block and fast arm, she was already spoken for. A strong athlete, Drews possesses a positive attitude and competitive streak that will serve her well in the Big Ten."
2. Burris (Muncie, Ind.) libero and 2010-11 Gatorade Indiana Volleyball Player of the Year Taylor Morey
PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 31
College: University of Notre Dame (verbal)
John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Despite her stature, as a hitter, she controls the net like she’s 6-foot. Morey will play libero at Notre Dame and coach Debbie Brown will be thrilled with what Morey, who only knows how to play at 100 mph, will bring to South Bend. She controls the back court, passing in every rotation as well as digging every ball that comes anywhere close to her. She is also an offensive weapon from the back row, with her ability to place shots at any given time to score."
3. Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne, Ind.) middle blocker Madeline Mayers
PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 76
Club: Fort Wayne
College: University of Illinois (verbal)
John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Mayers has a prototypical build for playing middle in the Big Ten. She has a solid frame, is extremely long limbed and very agile. Her superior athleticism for being so tall undoubtedly is what attracted Illinois coach Kevin Hambly to her."
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 …
Emily Wolfert SR MB Yorktown; Morgan Bergren SR S Delta; Jenna Spadafora SR S Carroll; Natalie Wichern SR S Brebeuf Jesuit; Molly Spitznagle SR MB Harrison; MacKenzie Kitchel SR OH Center Grove; Taylor Lebo JR MB/DS LaPorte
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.