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Eye on POY: Virginia volleyball

The window on the Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Breanna Atkinson

Senior outside hitter, The Madeira School (McLean, Va.)

2011 Team record: 29-2

2011 Team standing: Won VISAA Division I state title

2011 Kills: 458

2011 Blocks: 36

2011 Digs: 257

2011 Aces: 86

2011 Assists: 9

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: Duke (verbal)

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: 2011 VISAA Division I Player of the Year. 2011 AVCA Under Armour First Team All-American selection.

Cheyanne James

Senior outside hitter, Kellam (Virginia Beach, Va.)

2011 Team record: 33-0

2011 Team standing: Won Group AAA state title

2011 Kills: 324

2011 Blocks: 38

2011 Digs: 206

2011 Aces: 19

2011 Assists: 2

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Radford (verbal)

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Two-time Eastern Region Player of the Year. 2010 Group AAA State Player of the Year.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011 campaign.

Ryan Ackermann: Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.) junior outside hitter

Morgan Shannon: Cave Spring (Roanoke, Va.) senior outside hitter

Jenna Strange: Loudoun County (Leesburg) senior outside hitter/right-side

Karlie Suber: Atlee (Mechanicsville, Va.) junior setter

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com or Twitter @ESPNHS_Awards.