CHICAGO, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- In its third decade of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in partnership with RISE Magazine, today announced outside hitter Kelly Murphy of Joliet Catholic Academy (Joliet, Ill.) as its 2007-08 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year. The award, which recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Murphy as the nation's best high school volleyball player. A national advisory board comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country selected Murphy from more than 390,000-plus high school volleyball players nationwide. Murphy is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year Award, to be presented at a special ceremony the afternoon prior to The ESPY Awards in July. The 6-foot-2 senior setter and outside hitter amassed 414 kills, 303 assists, 121 digs, 55 aces and 32 blocks this fall. This year's Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year and three-time Joliet Herald Player of the Year, Murphy played on a badly sprained ankle in leading the Angels (34-6) to within one win of the Class 3A final four. She also guided her Sports Performance Volleyball Club team to back-to-back national titles at the USA Junior Olympic Championships, twice earning Most Valuable Player honors. Murphy led the USA Women's Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Junior World Championships, earning the Best Server award in the process. Murphy has maintained a 4.52 GPA in the classroom and is an enthusiastic participant in the Varsity Club, the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society, the Spanish National Honor Society and Student Ambassadors, through which she interfaces with students from area grade schools. She is an active volunteer in numerous community-service initiatives, donating her time to local nursing homes and as an instructor at area volleyball camps and clinics for high school, grade school and club teams. "Kelly is as good as any attacker in the country, she's got one of the best jump-float serves in the country and she can set," says Rick Butler, director of the Sports Performance Volleyball Club, for which Murphy competed. "There's no one else at the high school level this year who can say they're one of top two or three hitters and one of the top two or three setters. She's an athletic attacker who can set. At the Olympic level or pro level, she could control a match at that position." Murphy has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at the University of Florida next fall. "Without question, Kelly is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school volleyball player based on her statistics on the field and the impact her play had on Joliet Catholic Academy's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jeff Urban. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players 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 RISE Magazine, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport. For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information and lists of past winners and future announcement dates, visit gatorade.com/playeroftheyear.
ALL-TIME GATORADE NATIONAL VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONOREES Year Name High School/Location Status 2007-08 Kelly Murphy Joliet Catholic/Joliet, IL High School Senior 2006-07 Alix Klineman Mira Costa/Manhattan Beach, CA Stanford University 2005-06 Megan Hodge Riverside/Durham, NC Penn State University 2004-05 Cynthia Barboza Wilson Classical/Long Beach, CA Stanford University 2003-04 Cynthia Barboza Wilson Classical/Long Beach, CA Stanford University 2002-03 Kristin Richards Timpanogos/Orem, UT Stanford University Graduate 2001-02 Bre Ladd Canyon Del Oro/Tucson, AZ University of Arizona Graduate 2000-01 Ogonna Nnamani University/Normal, IL U.S. National Team 1999-00 April Ross Newport Harbor/Newport Beach, CA AVP Pro Beach Volleyball 1998-99 Logan Tom Highland/Salt Lake City, UT AVP Pro Beach Volleyball 1997-98 Sara Sandrik Pelham/Pelham, AL Stanford Graduate 1996-97 Denise Boylan Benet Academy/Lisle, IL Notre Dame Graduate 1995-96 Kerri Walsh Archbishop Mitty/San Jose, CA AVP Pro Beach Volleyball