West Aurora (Aurora, Ill.) senior Lauren Carlini awoke this morning with plenty of hardware in her trophy case as one of the nation’s most accomplished high school volleyball talents. But the latest addition to the senior setter’s haul likely tops them all.
Carlini was named the 2012-13 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year Tuesday morning.
April Ross, a beach volleyball silver medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics and Gatorade’s 1999-2000 National Player of the Year, delivered the news in a surprise visit to West Aurora.
PHOTOS: Carlini Receives Award
“The moment April walked into my economics class and I saw the trophy, I was so surprised because I was not expecting this in any way,” Carlini said. “I look at the names on that trophy and I realize I have a lot to live up to. This is such a big stage to be recognized on, but it’s so special it took place in my own classroom.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Carlini beat out more than 400,000 high school volleyball players nationwide to earn the award.
Carlini, a 6-foot-1 senior setter/right-side hitter, recorded 333 kills, 303 assists, 156 digs, 92 aces and 50 blocks this fall, leading the Blackhawks to a 32-6 record. She also compiled a hitting percentage of .462 and a kill percentage of .594.
“Lauren Carlini is the ultimate physical setter,” said John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com. “She is one of the most competitive, hate-to-lose players I have ever seen.”
A Wisconsin recruit, Carlini is rated the nation’s No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 by PrepVolleyball.com. Carlini is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award.
“I’ve presented this award three times now and Lauren was definitely the most stunned winner I’ve seen” said Ross, a four-time All-American at USC. “She really can’t believe this is happening. What stands out for me is the biggest thing she’s concerned about is thanking all the right people when the media asks her about winning.”
This past summer, Carlini led the U.S. Girls Youth National Team to a gold medal at the 2011 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships, earning MVP honors in the process. She also started for Team USA at the FIVB Girls Youth World Championships in Turkey.
Carlini has maintained a 3.73 GPA. She has volunteered on behalf of the Geneva Police Department and the Illinois Math and Science Academy. She is also a youth volleyball coach.
Carlini becomes the fourth volleyball player from Illinois to earn the national award. California has produced the most national volleyball winners with six.
Carlini also becomes Illinois’ 15th overall Gatorade National Player of the Year regardless of sport since the program was established in 1985.
Only California, Texas and Florida have produced more national winners.