LOUISVILLE, Ky. (USA Today)-- At 5-foot-9, Assumption High (Louisville, Ky.) setter Alexa Filley is accustomed to looking up at everyone else on the volleyball court. But today, she rose above the rest of the prep volleyball world when she was named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Volleyball of the Year.
“I’m so honored and surprised and thankful,” said Filley, 17, an Auburn commit. “I’ve been told all my life that my height is an issue on the court that I need to overcome. It’s so wonderful to be recognized for how hard I’ve worked to do that.”
Filley led the Rockets to a 36-6 record, the state championship and a No. 6 national ranking by PrepVolleyball.com this past season. The 5-foot-9 playmaker recorded 1,248 assists for an average of more than 11 per game and compiled a hitting percentage of .489 en route to 102 kills. London Olympics silver medalist April Ross surprised Filley with the news at her school.
“I think it’s even harder for a setter to win this award,” said Ross, 31, the 1999-2000 national Gatorade winner as a high school senior. “That stands out to me as far as how good Alexa has to be to do it. I think it’s inspiring. It means you don’t have to be 6-foot-2 to be recognized at this level.”
Filley was named MVP of the state tournament in each of the past two seasons, recording 334 digs, 58 blocks and 41 service aces in 2013. A Second Team Under Armour All-American and a two-time First Team All-State selection, Filley led Assumption to four straight state titles.
“Alexa Filley is a superior athlete and wonderfully skilled,” said John Tawa, Publisher of PrepVolleyball.com. “But since her mid-teens, what’s struck me is how hittable a ball she sets and how she commands the court. The confidence she exudes remains her calling card to this day. A four-time state champion as a high school starter, Filley always betters the ball. She doesn’t draw a lot of attention to herself, but the wins she produces speak to her impact.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Filley is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Filley has maintained a 3.86 GPA in the classroom and scored in the 91st percentile nationally on the ACT. She has volunteered locally on behalf of the Healing Place soup kitchen and as a mentor for at-risk children in association with Uspiritus. She has also donated her time with the Special Olympics, as a teacher’s assistant in a second grade classroom and as a counselor for the Earth & Spirit Center youth environmental camp.
Filley becomes the first volleyball player from Kentucky to win national Gatorade honors. She joins three other national winners from the state, a group consisting of former NFL quarterback Tim Couch of Leslie County (Hylen, Ky.), who won in 1995, along with girls’ basketball standouts Jaime Walz of Highland (Ft. Thomas, Ky.), the 1996 winner, and former WNBA forward Lisa Harrison of Southern (Louisville, Ky.), who won in 1989.
California has produced the most national winners in the award program’s 29-year history with 60 followed by Texas (27), Florida (20) and Illinois (15).