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POY Potential: Top 5 Fla. 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. Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.) outside hitter and returning Gatorade Florida Volleyball Player of the Year Jordan Burgess

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 3

  • Height: 6-foot

  • Club: Tampa Bay Juniors

  • College: Stanford University (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Watch Burgess on the court and you might not see anyone else. The ultra-athletic attacker is everywhere. She's the vocal leader in the middle in serve-receive. She's the blur -- curly hair flying -- chasing down a shanked ball well beyond the baseline. She's Superman, going horizontal to keep a certain point off of the opponent's ledger. She’s the acrobatic pin attacker out-quicking the block for an easy kill. She's the dervish flying out of the middle or from the back row with a swing that tears her foe’s heart out. She's the fist pump and the swagger and maybe, just maybe, the girl with a smile after a great point or match."

2. Palmer Trinity School (Palmetto Bay, Fla.) outside hitter Paulina Prieto

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 7

  • Height: 6-foot-2

  • Club: Boomers

  • College: Penn State University (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A gifted athlete with great physical strength, Prieto's big arm helps her terminate from anywhere on the court. Very passionate, Prieto plays every point with all-out intensity. Versatile in the front row, Prieto played both middle and outside hitter for the USA this summer on the Youth National Team and was an impact player in both positions."

3. Lakewood High (St. Petersburg, Fla.) outside hitter Berkley Whaley

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 11

  • Height: 6-foot-1

  • Club: Pinellas Heat

  • College: University of Florida (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A naturally gifted volleyball player who plays effortlessly, Whaley is a dynamic athlete who plays as well in the air as she does on the floor. Most people first notice her explosiveness at the net. She often hits the ball with extreme heat from the pin but also has all the shots."

4. Riverview High (Fla.) middle blocker Sarah Burrington

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 15

  • Height: 6-foot-5

  • Club: Tampa Bay Juniors

  • College: Florida State University (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "She has great lateral ability for someone who stands 6-5 and plays with full intensity at all times. Still relatively new to the game, Burrington is a ferocious blocker who can take over matches with her defense at the net, even against the most seasoned opponents."

5. The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) outside hitter Gabby Mallette

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: No. 32

  • Height: 6-foot-1

  • Club: JJVA

  • College: University of Florida (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A superior athlete, Mallette moves like a high Division I player. She has exceptional body control, great foot speed and gets off the ground quickly before soaring into nosebleed territory at 10-4."

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.