High School Volleyball

THE BEST OF THE BEST

Seven Lakes star Batenhorst is 2020-21 Gatorade volleyball national P.O.Y.

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 5/12/21

Not even one week of winning Gatorade Texas Player of the Year, Seven Lakes senior Ally Batenhorst was declared the best player in the nation.

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High School Volleyball

THE BEST OF THE BEST

Seven Lakes star Batenhorst is 2020-21 Gatorade volleyball national P.O.Y.

Posted

One week after being named the best high school volleyball player in the state for the 2020-21 season, former Seven Lakes star Ally Batenhorst was declared the best player in the nation.

In front of family, coaches and teammates during a surprise ceremony at the Seven Lakes high school gym on Wednesday, May 12, Batenhorst was announced as Gatorade’s 2020-21 Volleyball National Player of the Year.

Batenhorst is the first Texas high school volleyball player to win since the award was introduced in 1996.

The 6-foot-4 intimidating outside hitter averaged 6.6 kills and 4.3 digs per set in guiding Seven Lakes to a 25-1 record and the Class 6A state championship in 2020. In all, Batenhorst, now enrolled at Nebraska after graduating from Seven Lakes in the winter, recorded 574 kills, 371 digs, 33 blocks and 32 aces in 87 sets last season.

Olympic medalist April Ross surprised Batenhorst by telling her she won the award through a virtual conversation. The award recognizes athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character. It also distinguishes Batenhorst as the best high school player in the nation.

“Nearly half a million student-athletes play high school volleyball, and Batenhorst stood above them all,” Gatorade senior vice president and general manager Brett O’Brien said in a news release.

A national advisory panel comprised of volleyball experts and sports journalists helped select Batenhorst as the award winner.

“I’m here to let you know that you’re the national Gatorade Player of the Year,” Ross told Batenhorst.

Batenhorst’s jaw dropped, her eyes went wide and she clasped her hands over her mouth as family, teammates and school administrators, looking on and listening to the conversation from the side, cheered and presented the award’s trophy.

“It was insane. A great feeling,” Batenhorst said. “This is the probably the best award I’ve ever gotten. It not only considers volleyball accomplishments, but also character and academic achievements. That means more to me. It’s super special that it’s more than just volleyball.”

Batenhorst was named Gatorade’s 2020-21 Texas Player of the Year on May 5. She was also named Under Armour All-American, Class 6A state championship game Most Valuable Player, 2020 MaxPreps All-America first-teamer, 2020 PrepVolleyball.com High School Fall All-American and an academic all-state selection for her outstanding 2020 senior season.

She capped it all off by leading Seven Lakes to Katy ISD’s first volleyball state championship in December.

“I don’t think too much about my performance individually,” Batenhorst said. “I think back to our team and how we came together and had this insane chemistry that was unmatched. I was just so excited to be able to play volleyball in high school, play with my friends and have home games where my friends could come and support. The overall experience was what mattered to me. The awards and accolades … I’m so grateful. I’m so happy and beyond blessed. But my whole thing and focus was winning state.”

In the classroom, Batenhorst held a weighted 4.11 GPA and has served as a peer mentor while volunteering locally on behalf of hurricane relief efforts and the Ballard House, which provides temporary lodging for individuals and families who are hospitalized or receiving treatment.

“Volleyball only lasts so long. It’s a huge part of my life right now, but it won’t always be,” Batenhorst said. “I like giving back to my community, helping others and being selfless. Not everyone is in the best position and giving back feels great to me. With the Ballard House and Hurricane Harvey, some of my friends and family had houses flooded and it was a lot for them to go through. So, it made me feel good to be able to help and give back when they’re going through hard things.”

Batenhorst, the No. 3 recruit in the nation for the Class of 2021, is expected to compete for playing time as a true freshman at perennial powerhouse Nebraska in the fall.

While acknowledging the pressure of having big shoes to fill by winning the award—past winners have combined for 92 gold medals and 13 national championships—Ross told Batenhorst the award was a vote of confidence in her ability.

“When you go to Nebraska, just have confidence in that and you’ll go far,” Ross said. “I wish you the best of luck.”

Batenhorst has proven to thrive under pressure by keeping things simple.

“There’s definitely pressure, and I’ve always known that,” she said. “I just try not to think too hard about it. I get these awards, yeah, but I focus on playing my best. I play as hard as I can and try not to overthink things. Just play my game.”

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