USC Signee Khalia Lanier Named Gatorade National Player of the Year|
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Dec. 10, 2015
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- 2016 incoming USC freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Xavier College Prep/Phoenix, Arix.) was named the 2015-16 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year on Wednesday (Dec. 9). In its 31st year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, surprised Lanier with the news at school by having USC All-American, Olympic silver medalist, and pro beach volleyball player April Ross deliver the trophy.
"I still remember the day when I was honored as the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year and winning the award is one of the most memorable moments in my career," said Ross. "It's such a rare accomplishment, so I was honored to be able to be a part of today's celebration by surprising Khalia with the award."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Lanier as the nation's best high school volleyball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select her from nearly 430,000 high school volleyball players nationwide. Lanier is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July 2016.
"I am not surprised that Khalia was chosen for this great honor," said USC head coach Mick Haley. "We know her as a very talented and capable young woman, and are beyond excited to welcome her to the Trojan Family. The sky is the limit for her, and I hope that this award serves as motivation for her to work even harder at her craft in the years to come."
The 6-2 senior outside hitter recorded 496 kills, 324 digs, and 28 service aces while posting a kill percentage of .438 to lead the Gators (34-8) to the Arizona Division I state final this past season. A 2015 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and Under Armour First-Team All-American, and the top-ranked player in the nation as rated by PrepVolleyball.com, Lanier was a member of the U.S. Girls' Youth National Volleyball Team, leading some of the country's finest prep players to the 2015 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship final in Peru last summer.
Lanier has maintained a weighted cumulative grade-point average of 4.21. She also spent countless hours over nine days in the summer of 2014 volunteering in an orphanage in Komga, South Africa, teaching preschool-aged children. She has also volunteered on behalf of the Desert Mission Food Bank, to help provide emergency food assistance to families in North Phoenix.
"Khalia Lanier has been a star on the court since she led the Gators in kills the first match of her freshman year," said John Tawa, managing editor of PrepVolleyball.com. "Physically imposing on attack, she packs a punch few can match and has the intelligence and vision to make opponents pay in myriad ways. Her ability to score combined with a deft passing touch made her the consensus top recruit in the country. She played like it this past fall, fighting through an ankle injury to lead the nationally ranked Gators to the Arizona Division I final. In her four years, Lanier's teams averaged 35 wins per season and won a state title, and she was the principal reason why."
Lanier has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at USC next fall.
"Khalia embodies everything we look for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient," said Gatorade Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley. "In addition to being one of the best high school volleyball players in the country, Khalia has excelled in the classroom and been a positive influence in her community. She is a role model for younger student- athletes to look up to and we are excited to see all the things she will accomplish in the future."
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 the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:
For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year Web site at http://www.gatorade.com/poy, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.
The No. 2-ranked Trojans (32-2) received the No. 1 seed in the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship and have advanced to the program's 13th all-time regional semifinal. The Trojans will face 16th-seeded Creighton (27-8) in the San Diego Regional semifinal on Friday (Dec. 11) at 8 p.m. PT on ESPNU.
For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCWomensVolley on Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.