Fourteen high school volleyball players who have led their teams to outstanding seasons comprise our MaxPreps National Player of the Year watch list. The list includes preseason MaxPreps All-America team members, repeat All-American honorees and a handful of players who have played with USA Volleyball.
The watch list includes players from teams in the MaxPreps Top 25 as well as girls having amazing statistical seasons. All are chasing league and state titles and could join Elia Rubin, Paige Flickinger, Kenzie Knuckles and Lexi Sun as the MaxPreps National Player of the Year.
Players not on the list are not excluded from postseason honors consideration. However, these 14 players are receiving the most recognition as teams begin their regular season stretches and prepare for the postseason. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Olivia Babcock, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)
Outside hitter | 6-4 | Class of 2023 | Headed to PittsburgResume:
Babcock has 357 kills, 216 digs and 50 aces for the No. 10 Trailblazers. In six games at the Durango Fall Classic against national-level competition (best-of-three format), Babcock averaged more than 15 kills per matchQuotable:
"Olivia is a true force on the court — at that high school level, she can be impossible to contain. The best thing about Olivia is that she is never satisfied. She’s one of the most dynamic athletes on the country in the Class of 2023. She has led our team offensively all season, is a captain of our squad, and is only going to get better," Sierra Canyon coach Stefanie Wigfall said.Julia Blyashov, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
Outside hitter | 6-3 | Class of 2023 | StanfordResume:
Blyashov has been the catalyst for the No. 1 team in the MaxPreps Top 25 and unbeaten Dons. The future Cardinal also has been part of the U18 and U19 US Volleyball teams and won a CIF beach volleyball title. Quotable:
"She brings so many intangibles to the court. Her on-court presence brings peace of mind to the team and gives them confidence in the big moment. She isn't afraid to take the big swings," Cathedral Catholic assistant coach Cody Rose said.Chloe Chicoine, McCutcheon (Lafayette, Ind.)
Outside hitter | 5-10 | Class of 2023 | PurdueResume:
The Mavericks' go-to hitter is nearing 1,900 career kills and sits at 400 for her senior season with the No. 4 team in the country. Chicoine has played for USA Volleyball's U18 squad, was the only high schooler on the U21 team that won gold at the Pan Am Cup this summer (she was named "Best Spiker") and led McCutcheon to an Indiana 4A title last season.Quotable:
"She is the absolute definition of what grit is because no matter the drill, match or reps she is putting in she always trains or plays like it's the game point of the championship match. She makes others surrounding her want to be better, want to give their best and want to give everything they have for their team because she does it for them and she knows they have so much more to give," McCutcheon coach Sara Sutter said.Mele Corral-Blagojevich, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.)
Outside hitter | 6-1 | Class of 2023 | OklahomaResume:
The future Sooner is one of the most dominant hitters in the game. She seems to shine brighter, however, in big games, posting 19 kills in a five-set win over Mater Dei earlier this season. Quotable:
"She is our unquestioned leader because of her work ethic, selflessness, and her ability to inspire her teammates. She leads our teams in kills, aces, and blocks this year. I'm sure every team we play makes trying to stop Mele a No. 1 priority," Redondo coach Tommy Chaffins said.
Brooklyn DeLeye, Washburn Rural (Topeka, Kan.)
Outside hitter | 6-2 | Class of 2023 | Kentucky
The go-to hitter has unfinished business after helping the Blues win 41 straight last season before falling in the semifinals. She posted nearly 600 kills last season. This year, she's helped power the Blues to a 19-1 mark thus far. She also helped the basketball team to a state title last season.Quotable:
"Brooklyn DeLeye is the best all-around player in the state, hands down," said Nancy Dorsey, head coach of St. James Academy after the Washburn Rural star earned state Gatorade player of the year honors.Charlie Fuerbringer, Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Setter | 6-0 | Class of 2024 | Wisconsin
One of the best all-around players in the game still has another year to wow SoCal fans and frustrate the competition. Her father Matt was an All-American at Stanford and mom, Joy, an All-American at Long Beach State. In addition to setting the offense, Charlie also has 300 digs and 100 kills for No. 5 Mira Costa.Quotable:
"She puts our hitters in amazing situations. She's incredible in everything that she does. She can deliver the ball perfectly, block, serving … She can do everything on the court," coach Cam Green told the Torrance Daily Breeze.Nayeli Gonzalez, Cornerstone Christian (San Antonio)
Outside hitter | 6-0 | Class of 2023 | Iowa State
She's approaching 500 kills on the season and 1,500 for her career for the 51-2 Warriors, who climbed to No. 3 in the MaxPreps Top 25. She's hitting at 39 percent and has 98 blocks and 83 digs on the year.Quotable:
"Nayeli is possibly the most dominant player I have coached in 33 years. Blocking, attacking, playing Left/Middle/Right she has more power than any I have seen," coach Mike Carter said.Harper Murray, Skyline (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Outside hitter | 6-2 | Class of 2023 | Nebraska
The Miss Michigan Volleyball finalist has 368 kills and 199 digs while hitting at 44 percent for the 22-3 Eagles. Murray, who has played with USA Volleyball the past two years and is the No. 1 ranked player in her class by Prep Dig, has 2,130 kills and 1,250 digs in her Skyline career.
Quotable: "I feel like I play better under pressure, so I like it and I'm appreciative for the fact that I have that pressure and I have the community around me supporting me," Murray said to DetroitNews.com.
Kennedy Phelan, Fayetteville (Ark.)
Setter | 5-8 | Class of 2023 | Florida State
With 729 assists this season, the future Seminole is closing in on 4,000 for her career. She's teamed with hitter Brooke Rockwell and others to lead the Bulldogs to a No. 6 spot in the MaxPreps Top 25 as they seek their third straight 6A title.Quotable:
"Her court speed and athleticism help her stand out at the setter position, but it has also been fun to watch her grow in her leadership and decision making over the last four years. She is surrounded by a talented, experienced, hitting core and team that provides quality first ball contact, this allows her to keep teams off balance as she runs the offense for the Bulldogs. A coach's kid, Kennedy has grown up in the FHS gym," mom and coach Jessica Phelan said.Bergen Reilly, O'Gorman (Sioux Falls, S.D.)
Setter | 6-1 | Class of 2023 | Nebraska
The all-around talent for the Knights might not have the numbers as in previous seasons. But that's because she was called into duty for the USA Volleyball national team this season for the Pan Am Final Six, where they took silver. She was believed to be the first high school player called into action for that team. She's on a quest for three straight titles for the Knights, who are 11-3 this season.Quotable:
"You have Bergen Reilly, who has this calm, cool and collected demeanor and doesn't really get frazzled in high-pressure situations. I think that's something that's come as she's grown and played on bigger stages, but she has this calming persona that kind of feeds off in the rest of the gym, especially the girls on the varsity team she's always playing with," O'Gorman coach Cale Hecht told JustWomenSports.comAva Sarafa, Marian (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
Setter | 6-0 | Class of 2023 | Kentucky
The Miss Michigan Volleyball finalist is tossing up 10.1 assists per set for the No. 2 team in the MaxPreps Top 25. With 645 assists this season, the future Wildcat is approaching 4,500 career assists and is only the 16th player in state history to surpass the 1,400 threshold.Quotable:
"Ava is, obviously, the best setter in the state and, in my opinion, the best player in the state right now. When the best player on your team is a setter, and Ella is right there next to Ava as one of the best, it makes things exciting," Marian coach Mayssa Cook told HometownLife.com.Torrey Stafford, Marymount (Los Angeles)
Outside hitter | 6-2 | Class of 2023 |
When the lights are the brightest, Stafford seems to shine brightest for the No. x team in the country. Against some of SoCal's elite competition, she has come up huge with 23 kills against La Costa Canyon, 16 against Mira Costa, 13 vs. Sierra Canyon, 10 against No. 1 Cathedral Catholic and 15 against Redondo Union.Quotable:
"I think she is the best player in the nation! She attacks all areas of the court and blocks very well. Every team tries to serve her so she can't hit but she keeps swinging. She is a wonderful leader and super server!" Marymount coach Cari Klein said.Charlotte Vinson, Yorktown (Ind.)
Outside hitter | 6-2 | Class of 2025 | Uncommitted
So much for the sophomore slump as the Tigers' hitter has 337 kills this season after posting 354 as a freshman. She's added 138 digs and 50 aces for 26-2 Yorktown, which is No. 9 in the MaxPreps Top 25.Quotable:
"I think what separates Charlotte from others is that she just continues to get better and better because she's extremely competitive and always wants to compete at her highest level. She's only a sophomore, but has already started taking on a leadership role and is definitely our go-to hitter," Yorktown coach Stephanie Bloom said.Ellie White, Mother McAuley (Chicago)
Outside hitter | 5-11 | Class of 2024 | Michigan
The Mighty Macs' hammer passed the 1,000-kill mark this season with 341 so far this season, averaging 6.8 per set for 23-2 Mother McAuley. Additionally, she has 167 digs and 63 blocks and is headed to Ann Arbor as a setter for the Wolverines.Quotable:
"She will most likely never set for us because she's a force on the outside. Last year as a sophomore, Ellie led the state in kills — that's impressive as a sophomore but even more impressive that she led in a state considered to be a volleyball hotbed. I like to refer to Ellie as that 1 percent player who has that world vision, can understand the game at a high level, and can make adjustments without really having to practice it," coach Jan DeJarld said.Whitney Woodrow, Assumption (Louisville, Ky.)
Setter | 6-1 | Class of 2023 | Fordham
The Rockets' captain has surpassed 1,000 assists this season and is poised to break the 2,500 assist barrier for the No. 12 team in the country. She's found chemistry with hitter Charlotte Moriarty (291 kills) while Assumption also has five other hitters with more than 140 kills.
Quotable: "No one works any harder or is more competitive on our team and her leadership on and off the court is phenomenal. She is the type of player that everyone wants to play with. In addition to setting, Whitney is our leading server this season. Her size allows her to be very offensive for us and the ability to put up formidable block," Assumption coach Ron Kordes said.
Previous MaxPreps National Players of the Year
2008 — Lauren Cook, Pius X (Lincoln, Neb.)
2009 — Rachel Williams, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)
2010 — Tiffany Baker, Hebron (Carrollton, Texas)
2011 — Nicole Dalton, Chaparral (Parker, Colo.)
2012 — Amber Rolfzen/Kadie Rolfzen, Papillion LaVista South (Papillion, Neb.)
2013 — Courtney Eckenrode, The Woodlands (Texas)
2014 — Alexis Smith, Lewis-Palmer (Monument, Colo.)
2015 — Nicole Peterson, Jesuit (Portland, Ore.)
2016 — Lexi Sun, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.)
2017 — Erin O'Leary, Novi (Mich.)
2018 — Kenzie Knuckles, Yorktown (Ind.)
2019 — Paige Flickinger, Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, Texas)
2020 — No award due to pandemic
2021 — Elia Rubin, Marymount (Los Angeles)