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POY Potential: Top Arizona volleyball recruits

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. Gilbert High (Gilbert, Ariz.) outside hitter Macey Gardner

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 20

  • Height: 6-foot

  • Club: Club Red

  • College: Arizona State (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A five-tool player, Gardner can hit (with heat), block, pass, play great defense and score with her jump serve. While she can do all of those skills well, it's her hitting that draws a crowd of spectators. With her quick footwork, great jumping ability, and canon of an arm, she one of the most feared hitters in the country. Gardner, who is very intense on the court, also is a clutch performer. She has been called on time and again to take many big swings for her club team and has delivered virtually every time. Gardner’s abundant skill set will translate well at the next level for Gardner, who has committed to Arizona State. Jason Watson is a coach who likes good all-around volleyball players and Gardner is the epitome of that. She should play right away at ASU and have an impact in both the front row and back row for the Sun Devils."

2. Seton Catholic High (Chandler, Ariz.) outside hitter Haley Lawless

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 21

  • Height: 6-foot-3

  • Club: Club Red

  • College: UCLA (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Lawless has been on three high school state championship teams as well as a Club Red squad that for the past two years has been arguably the best regular-season team in its age division. Very long, Lawless is a smooth and smart attacker whose revamped arm swing has added even more heat to what already was a pretty spicy attack. A hitter with great range and natural ability, Lawless has the potential to be a six-rotation impact player at UCLA, where she has committed. More importantly, she has a strong desire for improvement."

3. Xavier College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) setter Bianca Arellano

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 30

  • Height: 5-foot-8

  • Club: Club Red

  • College: Tennessee (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "With a disarming smile and a gentle touch, no one takes care of her teammates more than Arellano. She has a way of making players believe in themselves and, in that way, gets the absolute best out of those on the court with her. Opponents, however, should not presume that Arellano’s kindly personality means she will take it easy on them. To the contrary, she is a cut throat, cold-blooded killer who wants to win and knows how to get it done. Perhaps the fastest player in the country on her side of the net, Arellano’s lightning-quick first step helps her team stay 'in system' even on mediocre passes. She has superior hand-eye coordination, which allows her to deliver perfect sets and be a well above average blocker for someone her height. An astute student of the game and a tireless worker, Arellano’s play will demand court time early at Tennessee, where she has committed."

4. Xavier College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) setter Abigail Hornacek

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: Top 150

  • Height: 6-foot

  • Club: Spiral

  • College: Kansas (verbal)

5. Hamilton High (Chandler, Ariz.) middle blocker Payton Bock

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: Top 150

  • Height: 6-foot-3

  • Club: Club Red

  • College: Northern Arizona (verbal)

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.