by Paul Soriano
USA Volleyball Manager, Public Relations & Publications

 

In its 20th Anniversary season of honoring the nation's elite high school athletes, Gatorade Thirst Quencher, in partnership with Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director magazine, announced Stanford University recruit Cynthia Barboza of Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, Calif., as the 2004 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year on Thursday, Jan. 20.

 

In winning the award for a second consecutive season, Barboza joins Marion Jones (1991-93), LeBron James (2002-03) and Candace Parker (2003-04) as one of only four high school athletes in any sport to win Gatorade National Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons.  She is the first volleyball player to achieve the feat.

 

This season, the 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter/middle blocker averaged 18.3 kills, 1.57 blocks and 2.0 aces per match for the Bruins, who were 25-7 and reached the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA semifinals. She hit an amazing .537 for the season, compiling 14 matches with an attack efficiency greater than .650 and four matches in which she hit better than .800.  Her best effort of the season (.840) came in a loss against eventual state champion Mira Costa.

 

"Cynthia is by far the hardest working young person I have ever seen at the high school level," says Wilson head coach, Susan Pescar.  "She's a tremendous athlete, but what's made her a dominant player is that she works tirelessly to turn whatever she perceives as a 'weakness' in her game into a strength."

 

Barboza finished her high school career with 2,145 career kills, 349 blocks and 152 aces. Her lengthy resume includes 2004 High School Player of the Year by Volleyball Magazine, All-California Interscholastic Federation (Southern Section) Division I-AA co-MVP, and four-time first-team All-CIF recognition.  In addition, Barboza has already established herself as one of USA Volleyball's youngest stars.  Last summer the senior to-be was selected as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team, and in 2003 was a starter on the U.S. team that won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games.

 

Away from the court, Barboza is a straight-A student who is fluent in Spanish, tutors fellow Wilson students in Spanish and math, and coaches a girls' youth club volleyball team.

 

"She's special," says Pescar. "She is genuine, thoughtful, life-loving teenager who just happens to have a chance to be one of the best volleyball players the world has ever known."

 

"The honor bestowed upon Cynthia today is reflective of her demonstrated ability to play the game of volleyball at the highest level; rising to the top of an extremely talented group of high school players across the nation," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing, Tom Fox.  "For 20 years the Gatorade High School Player of the Year Award has recognized outstanding athletes who also shine in the classroom and in their communities, so it is the whole of Cynthia's accomplishments that have earned her a place among the best high school athletes of the past two decades."

 

The Gatorade High School Player of the Year program recognizes one winner in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and awards one National Player of the Year in football, baseball, softball, volleyball, and boys' and girls' basketball, soccer, and track & field. Previous national award winners include Kerri Walsh, Lisa Leslie, Allyson Felix, Emmitt Smith, and Peyton Manning among others.

 

For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information and a list of upcoming announcement dates, or the names of previous winners, visit www.gatorade.com.

 

Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year Honorees

 

Year ? Name (High School/Hometown)

2004 ? Cynthia Barboza (Wilson Classical/Long Beach, Calif.)

2003 ? Cynthia Barboza (Wilson Classical/Long Beach, Calif.)

2002 ? Kristin Richards (Timpanogos/Orem, Utah)

2001 ? Bre Ladd (Canyon Del Oro/Tucson, Ariz.)

2000 ? Ogonna Nnamani (University/Normal, Ill.)

1999 ? April Ross (Newport Harbor/Newport Beach, Calif.)

1998 ? Logan Tom (Highland/Salt Lake City, Utah)

1997 ? Sara Sandrik (Pelham/Pelham, Ala.)

1996 ? Denise Boylan (Benet Academy/Lisle, Ill.)

1995 ? Kerri Walsh (Archbishop Mitty/San Jose, Calif.)

 

For more information, go to the USA Volleyball web site (www.usavolleyball.org)