High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Palo Alto

POY Alumni: Gina MancusoChris MachianThe 2008-09 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year, Gina Mancuso has helped lead the Nebraska women's volleyball team to the nation's No. 1 ranking.
The University of Nebraska women's volleyball squad ripped the nation's No. 1 ranking away from Illinois this week, while Stanford retained its vice grip atop the women's soccer Top 25. Each team has relied heavily on former Gatorade Player of the Year award-winners to reach its lofty perch.

Five players have started all 18 matches for the Cornhuskers this fall and four are former POYs, including 2008-09 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year Gina Mancuso of Papillion-La Vista (Omaha, Neb.). The junior hitter currently leads the team with 251 kills.

Mancuso is joined in the Big Red starting lineup by fellow State POY alumni Lauren Cook (2007-08 Nebraska), Hannah Werth (2008-09 Illinois) and two-time Gatorade Colorado POY Morgan Broekhuis (2008-10). The latter two and Mancuso have amassed 653 kills for the 17-1 Huskers. Cook has set her way to 763 assists.

The only Nebraska starter without a POY trophy at home is redshirt senior middle blocker Brooke Delano, who narrowly missed out on Gatorade honors to Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) teammate Gabi Ailes in 2006-07. (Ailes became an All-American at Stanford and finished as the Cardinal career digs leader). The player with the next-most starts in 2011 -- Nebraska native, middle blocker and redshirt sophomore Hayley Thramer -- played her senior prep season at Ewing the same year returning State POY Cook and eventual National POY Mancuso were starring as high school seniors.

Interestingly, there is a fifth Gatorade State Player of the Year on Nebraska's 15-player volleyball roster in 2011: Freshman Shelby Winkelmann was Missouri's State Girls Basketball POY in 2010-11 as a senior guard for Hermann.

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POY Potential: Top Calif. volleyball recruits

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
3:28
PM ET
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. Wilson High (Long Beach, Calif.) setter Rebecca Strehlow
  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 8
  • Height: 6-foot
  • Club: Sports Shack
  • College: UCLA (verbal)
  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Strehlow has all the things you look for in the modern setter. She has good size, is a great athlete, can locate, makes great decisions, can set any tempo, can serve and is the best blocking setter in this class by far."

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