Eye on POY: Colorado volleyball

The window on the Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Nicole Dalton

Senior outside hitter/setter, Chaparral (Parker, Colo.)

2011 Team record: 31-0 (Class 5A)

2011 Team standing: Class 5A state champions; No. 8 on ESPNHS FAB 50

2011 Kills: 492

2011 Assists: 406

2011 Digs: 267

2011 Blocks: 62

2011 Aces: 54

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: University of Texas

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Amassed 22 assists, 13 kills, 13 digs and three blocks in a Class 5A state championship sweep of Grandview (Aurora, Colo.). Averaged 5.0 kills, 4.1 assists and 2.7 digs per set. Recorded a .564 kill percentage. 2010-11 Gatorade Colorado Volleyball Player of the Year. No. 6 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by PrepVolleyball.com. 2011 Under Armour First Team All-America selection. 2011 U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team member. 2011 Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports Player of the Year. 2010 All-Colorado Player of the Year as named by The Denver Post. 2010 and 2011 Class 5A state tournament Most Valuable Player. 2010 Class 5A state champion. 2009 USA Volleyball Junior Olympic Championships All-Tournament Team selection.

Alex Reid

Senior middle blocker/outside hitter, Grandview (Aurora, Colo.)

2011 Team record: 29-2 (Class 5A)

2011 Team standing: lost Class 5A state final to Chaparral, 3-0

2011 Digs: 350

2011 Kills: 340

2011 Blocks: 59

2011 Aces: 30

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Long Beach State University

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: In a 3-2 win over Lakewood (Colo.) in the Class 5A state semifinals, totaled 29 kills, 20 digs and five blocks. Averaged 4.5 service receptions, 3.5 digs, and 3.4 kills per set. Generated a .432 kill percentage. 2011 Under Armour Second Team All-America selection. 2010 and 2011 Class 5A All-Tournament selection. 2010 Class 5A Second Team All-State selection as named by The Denver Post.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011 campaign.

Elizabeth Campbell: Chaparral (Parker, Colo.) senior middle blocker/outside hitter

Monique Domme: Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs, Colo.) junior setter

Katelyn Driscoll: Heritage (Littleton, Colo.) senior outside hitter

Janae Hall: Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) senior middle blocker

Claire Felix: The Classical Academy (Colorado Springs, Colo.) junior middle blocker

Canace Finley: Poudre (Fort Collins, Colo.) senior middle blocker

Katherine Rifilato: Bayfield (Colo.) senior outside hitter/setter/libero

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com or Twitter @ESPNHS_Awards.