Contact: Julie Mason (412-496-3196)
OMAHA, Neb. (Dec. 18, 2008) - Gina Mancuso (Papillion-La Vista High School/Papillion, Neb.), a member of the 2008 U.S. Women's Junior National Team that earned gold the NORCECA Women's Junior Continental Championship, added to her season of accolades by being named the 2008-09 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year. The award sponsored by the Gatorade Company and in partnership with ESPN Rise Magazine is in its third decade of honoring the nation's best high school athletes.
Mancuso is the first player from the state of Nebraska ever to win Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year honors.
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 Mancuso as the nation's best high school volleyball player. A national advisory board comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country helped to select Mancuso from more than 397,000 high school volleyball players nationwide. Mancuso is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year Award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 6-foot senior outside hitter amassed 721 kills and 373 digs this season, leading the Monarchs (42-1) to a second consecutive Class A state championship. A 2008-09 Under Armour First Team All-American, Mancuso also totaled 53 blocks, 50 assists and 39 service aces during her senior campaign. An honorary co-captain of both the 2008 Lincoln Journal Star Super State Team and the 2008 Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska team, she recorded 32 assists, nine digs, five kills and one ace in a state-final sweep of Lincoln Northwest.
During the 2008 NORCECA Women's Junior Continental Championship, Mancuso scored 25 points via 19 kills, five blocks and one ace. She provided seven points in the gold-medal victory over Dominican Republic. Mancuso added a 76 percent positive reception in the match on 25 opportunities. In the tournament's opening match, Mancuso netted a team-high 13 points in a pool loss to Dominican Republic.
In addition, Mancuso also led the Nebraska Volleyball Academy 17-and-under Red team to the 2007 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior Olympic Championships National Division title, earning All-Tournament honors in the process.
Also a varsity basketball and track athlete, Mancuso has maintained a 4.64 weighted GPA in the classroom. Papillion-La Vista's 2008 Homecoming Queen and a singer in a community vocal group, she has served as a member of the student council, as captain of the letter-winners club, and on the school's student-leadership Class Board. A volunteer with Omaha's Glad Tidings Church Youth Group, Mancuso has also donated her time to a local literacy outreach program, cleanup efforts in area city parks and coaching area youth.
"She's a top player-all-around," said Gwen Egbert, head coach of rival Papillion South High. "Offensively, she's great. Defensively, she's great. She can pass well. She did a lot for her team. It's been a while since we've had someone that good in Nebraska. She knows what to do when things get tight. She wants the ball, she knows where to put it, and she keeps it in play. She's got a great game with a lot of knowledge."
Mancuso has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at the University of Nebraska next fall.
"Without question, Gina is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school volleyball player based on her statistics on the court and the impact her play has had on Papillion-La Vista's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jeff Urban. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. She represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."
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 ESPN RISE Magazine, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information and lists of past winners and future announcement dates, visit gatorade.com/playeroftheyear.
ALL-TIME GATORADE NATIONAL VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Year: Name (High School), Status
2008-09: Gina Mancuso (Papillion-La Vista/Papillion, Neb.), High School Senior
2007-08: Kelly Murphy (Joliet Catholic/Joliet, Ill.), University of Florida
2006-07: Alix Klineman (Mira Costa/Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Stanford University
2005-06: Megan Hodge (Riverside/Durham, N.C.), Penn State University
2004-05: Cynthia Barboza (Wilson Classical/Long Beach, Calif.), Stanford University/U.S. National Team
2003-04: Cynthia Barboza (Wilson Classical/Long Beach, Calif.), Stanford University/U.S. National Team
2002-03: Kristin Richards (Timpanogos/Orem, Utah), U.S. National Team
2001-02: Bre Ladd (Canyon Del Oro/Tucson, Ariz.), University of Arizona Graduate
2000-01: Ogonna Nnamani (University/Normal, Ill.), U.S. National Team/2-time Olympian
1999-00: April Ross (Newport Harbor/Newport Beach, Calif.), Pro Beach Volleyball
1998-99: Logan Tom (Highland/Salt Lake City, Utah), U.S. National Team/3-time Olympian
1997-98: Sara Sandrik (Pelham/Pelham, Ala.), Stanford University Graduate
1996-97: Denise Boylan (Benet Academy/Lisle, Ill.), Notre Dame Graduate
1995-96: Kerri Walsh (Archbishop Mitty/San Jose, Calif.), Pro Beach Volleyball/2-time Olympic Champion