WEST AURORA, Ill. — Gatorade and USA Today High School Sports have named Lauren Carlini of West Aurora High School as the 2012-13 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year.
Carlini received the news at West Aurora High School from 2012 Olympic silver medalist April Ross, who earned Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year honors in 1999-00.
"When I received the award, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Lauren with the news and invite her into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Ross. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Carlini as the nation's best high school volleyball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Carlini from more than 400,000 high school volleyball players nationwide. Carlini is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to the ESPY Awards in July.
The 6-foot-1 senior setter/right side hitter recorded 333 kills, 303 assists, 156 digs, 92 service aces and 50 blocks this past season while posting a kill percentage of .594 and leading the Blackhawks (32-6) to the Class 4A sectional semifinals. The 2012 Chicago Tribune Volleyball Player of the Year and a 2012-13 American Volleyball Coaches Association Under Armour First Team All-American, Carlini earned MVP honors in leading the U.S. Girls Youth National Team to a gold medal at the 2011 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships. She also started for Team USA at that summer's FIVB Girls Youth World Championships in Turkey, and is the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 as rated by PrepVolleyball.com.
Carlini has maintained a 3.73 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of the Geneva Police Department, the Illinois Math and Science Academy and as a youth volleyball coach. Carlini has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on an athletic scholarship at the University of Wisconsin beginning in the fall 2013.
"Without question, Lauren is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school volleyball player based on her statistics on the court and the impact her accomplishments have had on West Aurora's success," said Gatorade VP, brand marketing Morgan Flatley. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. She represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA Today High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning, WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie, NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith and three-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh.