POY Potential: Top 5 Texas 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 five recruits as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …

1. Klein Collins High (Spring, TX) Middle Blocker Molly McCage

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 1

  • Height: 6-foot-3

  • Club: Woodlands Wave

  • College: Texas (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Blessed with exceptional speed and mobility from pin to pin and natural blocking ability, McCage is arguably the best blocker in the 2012 class. McCage, who rises off the floor with effortless grace and reaches into the rafters at about 10-7, captained the USA Youth National team to a Gold Medal, earning a berth to the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and the 2011 FIVB World championships. Hitting from a very high contact point, MCCage has incredible range as an attacker, and can pretty much score at will from anywhere on the court."

2. Clear Lake High (Houston, TX) Middle Blocker Kiara Wright

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 13

  • Height: 6-foot-1

  • Club: AVA of Texas

  • College: USC (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Undoubtedly one of the most talented athletes in the nation, Wright is a fierce competitor who thrives in difficult situations. Her power game is unimaginable, as she has an artillery of shots that makes her a most feared hitter. A high flyer, Wright has the athletic ability and skill set to thrive at any front row position."

3. Lake Travis High (Austin, TX) Outside Hitter Amy Neal

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 18

  • Height: 5-foot-9

  • Club: Austin Juniors

  • College: Texas (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "As a high school and club outside hitter, Neal has achieved at the highest levels in the Lone Star State and nationally. This fall, Lake Travis, which is ranked No. 1 nationally, won all three of its tournaments and Neal was named MVP each time. She is, in a word, fantastic, a hitter who, despite being just 5-9, plays well above the net and can terminate from any place on the court. Neal also is intense and determined in the back court and brings consistency and calm to serve receive and defense, not to mention a high-flying, point-producing power-packed jump serve."

4. Lake Travis High (Austin, TX) Setter Katy Beals

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 22

  • Height: 6-foot

  • Club: Austin Juniors

  • College: Washington (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "Beals has only been setting for two years, but has accomplished more than most setters in the country. She has led her team to three National Qualifier titles, a high school state title and the 17 Open national championship, to name but a few. Beals has all of the characteristics you look for in a setter -- speed, jump, big hands, great range, confidence, stellar court sense and strong leadership."

5. Cypress Falls High (Cypress, TX) Middle Blocker Chanell Clark-Bibbs

  • PrepVolleyball Senior Aces rank: 25

  • Height: 6-foot

  • Club: Woodlands Wave

  • College: Georgia Tech (verbal)

  • John Tawa, publisher of PrepVolleyball.com: "A great athlete with explosive lateral foot speed, Clark-Bibbs is a dynamic middle who runs a spectacular slide and has the power to put the ball away. Her live arm and explosion off the floor also make her a threat off of two feet."

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 …

Andie Malloy SR S Lovejoy; Chloe Collins JR S Cy Wooids; Ebony Nwanebu JR MB Lovejoy; Katie Mitchell SR OH Woodlands; Alexis Austin SR MB Cypress Falls; Khourtni Fears SR MB Bellaire; Caitlin Nolan SR L Southlake Carroll; Leah Mikesky SR OH Schulenburg.

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.