Video: Final high school volleyball rankings
Kentucky powerhouse finishes the season No. 1.
Following an undefeated, state championship season at Yorktown (Ind.)
, senior Kenzie Knuckles
has been named the MaxPreps National Volleyball Player of the Year.
Yorktown lost just one set all season (against Indiana Class 3A state champion New Castle) and checked in at No. 2 in MaxPreps.com's final national rankings.
Over her four-year career, Knuckles piled up 1,797 kills, served 165 aces at better than 93 percent, had 129 blocks and totaled 1,654 digs.
More impressively, Yorktown went 145-6 during Knuckles' four years in the program. She's won every award available to her — all-state, state player of the year, Under Armour All-American and four MaxPreps Underclass All-American selections. She's been in Sports Illustrated.
Yorktown coach Stephanie Bloom says Knuckles is a coach's dream, a once in a lifetime player.
"I've never coached a player of her caliber and I don't think I ever will again," Bloom said. "Kenzie has made an incredible impact on our program.
"She's been our go-to player all four years of her career. And while that's a lot of pressure year in and year out, she has handled it well and has risen to the challenge each year."
Knuckles, who has signed with Nebraska, is blessed with tremendous leaping skills and court quickness that enabled her to average better than 41 percent kill percentage in her career. Only 5-foot-8, she is expected to play libero for the Cornhuskers.
Though she started playing club volleyball when she was five years old, Knuckles tried every sport but tennis by the time she reached middle school. She excelled in track and gymnastics before her volleyball passion took over in eighth grade.
"Volleyball is definitely a passion," Knuckles said. "It's super fun and always been something I can do and I always have. Volleyball helps me with bad days."
Knuckles has had her share of bad days, having lost her father, Mike Knuckles, to cancer at age 14.
"She hasn't always had the easiest road, losing her father at the age of 14," Bloom said. "She had to learn how to overcome at a very early age and volleyball was always an outlet for her … a way for her to forget some of the real life issues happening and to just go play."
Knuckles' volleyball passion helped her cope and her senior season was the peak of her prep career. The Tigers won every set of their first 25 matches in 2018. They lost 25-22 to New Castle in the first set of their showdown, then won the next three by identical 25-17 scores.
"They were the best team we played," Knuckles said. "We didn't play to our potential in the first set, but the loss woke us. We knew going in that if we lost a set, we'd be okay. We just regrouped and played our game."
Knuckles, who excels in the classroom, said her greatest motivation is wanting to win for her team.
"I've always been on winning teams and have always played with people who wanted it as badly as I wanted it," said Knuckles, who will play both beach and indoor volleyball at Nebraska.
Recruited by more than 100 colleges, Knuckles loved the family atmosphere in Lincoln.
"It just felt like a big family and I liked that a lot. It's not that different from Indiana," said Knuckles, who lives with her mother Crystal Lampkin.
Her goals at Nebraska are the same as her high school goals.
"Work hard and fit into the team," she said. "Eventually, I want to earn a spot."
Knuckles is graduating Yorktown this month and will begin her college journey in January. Competition in beach volleyball begins this spring.
Other mountains to climb include her goal to play in the Olympic Games and eventually become a coach.
"I don't think I can ever leave this sport," Knuckles 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 and 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.)