POY Potential: Top N.M. 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 recruits as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com are sure to challenge returning Gatorade New Mexico Player of the Year Nathalie Castellanos for the 2011-12 honor at some point. Here they are …

1. Cleveland High (Rio Rancho, N.M.) middle blocker Sara Hattis

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 9

  • Height: 6-foot-4

  • Club: NM Juniors

  • College: Undecided

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A basketball star considered among the top 100 recruits nationally in that sport, Hattis is new to big time volleyball, having played only three months of club ball, but in that span, she was able to mesmerize college coaches from across the country with her immense potential."

2. Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.) middle blocker Kaira Lujan

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 66

  • Height: 6-foot-4

  • Club: NM Juniors

  • College: Dartmouth (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A middle with potential to be unstoppable in the front row, Lujan plays very high off of one foot on the slide. A solid blocker who is ever improving, Lujan easily gets her hands on every ball with either a stuff block or by slowing down a hard driven ball."

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning volleyball underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11 …

Jordan Bruere SR S Cleveland; Camille Boal SR MB Sandia; Julia Warren JR OH La Cueva; Brandi Torr JR S La Cueva; Cassie House JR MB Cleveland; Marissa Calvillo SR OH Cleveland

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.