Unsuspecting of the surprise that awaited outside, Taylor Nelson sat in her third-period English class Thursday morning at Granite Bay High School waiting to give one of her final presentations as a senior.
Then with a roar, her teammates from Granite Bay’s CIF Division I state volleyball championship team stormed the classroom to give Nelson the news: she had been named the 2013-14 Gatorade California Volleyball Player of the Year.
“I’m very surprised. It’s a huge honor and it feels really good to get this award,” Nelson said. “I’ve been working hard for the last five years in volleyball. So this feels really good.”
Nelson finished her senior season with 996 assists and 192 kills while leading Granite Bay to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, NorCal title and, finally, the state crown with 3-1 victory over Los Alamitos in Orange on Saturday. Granite Bay (45-0) finished the season ranked No. 3 in the nation.
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Nelson, who will graduate early from Granite Bay to begin her college career at Cal Poly on scholarship, is the first volleyball player from the Sac-Joaquin Section to receive the award in its 29th year. The award recognizes outstanding athletic and academic achievements.
“I am really proud of her,” Granite Bay coach Tricia Plummer said. “She has worked hard. It’s nice to see this recognition when you put your heart and your soul into the sport.”
Nelson’s mother, Vera, who coaches volleyball at Sierra College, couldn’t hold back the tears when reflecting on her daughter’s accomplishments.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “It’s great to see all of her hard work pay off. It’s inspirational to others to know how much time she’s put in and the things she’s sacrificed to get here. Cal Poly is really lucky to have her.”
Nelson is a two-time Sierra Foothill League MVP and maintains a 3.92 grade-point average.